Insulation is back in my roof (just in time for winter, it seems)

Well, I’m getting there.

Last week I had a ceiling fan installed in the livingroom. It’ll help on hot days, and because I have ceiling ducted heating, also helps distribute heat better on cold days as well.

Old light fittingNew light fitting/fan

To do this, the old light fitting was removed. I’m hoping it might be worth something — I was never that keen on it, but it does appear to be an original, making it about eighty years old. There appears to be a reasonable market for such things.

In contrast, I really like all the other (antique) lights in the house — except for the kitchen. Of course, now I’m realising that I should have arranged for the kitchen to have a ceiling fan installed as well. And while I was at it, I could have got them to install the heat guards for the down lights in there. They were switched from halogen to LEDs, so not as warm, but still worthwhile to assist with the insulation.

Speaking of insulation, that got done yesterday morning. The old loose stuff had been removed last year. The very hot day or two last week was unbearable. Winter last year wasn’t much fun either. My estimate is that in a weatherboard house with no roof insulation, the temperature would drop by at least a degree per hour if it was cold outside, which made a big difference to the gas heating bill.

So I finally got around to booking insulation back. This document from the Victorian Department of Sustainability reckons the recommended level of insulation for ceilings in Melbourne is R2.5, but I decided to go for R4. (Confusingly, I subsequently found this Federal government web page which recommends R4.1. Hmmm.

The material they used was something called “earthwool” — which unlike conventional glasswool doesn’t cause irritation if handled without gloves.

Roof without insulation
Roof with insulation

The installers appear to have done a good quick job, but it was a tad irritating that they’d booked in for 7:30am (necessitating everybody being awake and dressed early) but didn’t show until 10am. Not to worry; I think it’s already made a difference… after they’d finished, I turned the heat on (damn it was cold yesterday).

Gaps were left around the down lights, with spare earthwool to fill in the gaps once I’ve had the electricians back in to install the heat guards.

So, hopefully having insulation back in the roof will make a big difference, and it means the various housey things I’ve been meaning to get done are progressing.

Other projects in progress:

  • Sort out the spare room for Jeremy’s use, once the drainage issue at the back of the house is solved (water leaks in the window during very heavy downfall)
  • Solar panels on the roof (I already have solar water… hopefully there’s enough north-facing roof space for PV panels as well)
  • Fix the rattling laundry window
  • A nicer, heavier rug for the livingroom
  • Consider external blinds for some north/west-facing rooms to further reduce heat
  • The constant tidying and reduction in clutter… have made good progress over the break, but there’s still a lot to do

Memo to self:

  • Light globe for ceiling fan: GE Tiny Spiral, 15 watt CFL (75 watt equivalent) x 2, E27 screw

When not to use CFLs

Letter the other week in The Age:

Not worth the cost

AM I the only person having trouble with expensive ”green globes” alleged to last 10,000 hours? Used eight hours a day, a globe should last more than three years. I have replaced the globe in one lamp four times already this year. I want my cheap, long-lasting, environmentally unfriendly globes back.

Leone Garro, Northcote

My CFLs are lasting ages… provided they’re in the right places.

I would bet the globes referred-to above are switched on for short durations (less than 15 minutes), many times a day. That kind of usage is bad for CFLs, and it’s precisely why I’ve avoided using one in the toilet, for instance, and also in the bedrooms — our particular usage there seems to predominantly involve ducking in to get something/drop something, then out again.

For those types of spots, it’s far better to stick to non-CFLs, such as the energy-saving incandescents still available. (My local supermarket has the Philips EcoClassic products, which for instance provide 100w of light but burn 70w of power.)

Evidently this message isn’t isn’t getting through.

Or possibly Leone’s light fitting or wiring is faulty, but I’m betting it’s the former.

(Previous blog post on this topic)

CFLs

Lights again.

I seem to have reached the point where the first of my compact fluorescent light globes are starting to be replaced.

Many of them I installed about two years ago, and most in the house are still going strong.

The three that have expired get switched on generally for only short periods of time, which Wikipedia notes can cut the lifespan drastically, and says:

The US Energy Star program says to leave them on at least 15 minutes at a time to mitigate this problem.

I wonder if those ones should be replaced with conventional bulbs, while they’re still available? In the supermarket it appears the range has been radically reduced since I last bought any, with an “efficient” range of Phillips incandescent bulbs pretty much the only ones left in Safeway, probably reflecting stricter rules on light globe importation and power consumption.

Another CFL that is still working, but is showing signs of wearing-out, is in the hallway outside the kids’ bedroom, and gets left on at night. Given the number of hours it’s spent switched-on (I estimate something like 4600 hours so far) that’s pretty impressive.

What to do with the CFLs once used? It’s generally known that they have a small amount of mercury in them, and therefore ideally shouldn’t end up in landfill. Reality seems to be rather different though — when I rang the council about it, they said they know of no special arrangements for them. Hmm.

As with traffic lights, hopefully domestic lighting will move towards LEDs, which not only use less power, they don’t have the short usage problems, and nor do they (as far as I know) require special methods of disposal.

Update 12:20pm. Clarified that some Phillips incandescent globes still available in Safeway.

LED traffic lights

If you’ve wondered about the LEDs being increasingly used for traffic lights, apparently they use 60% less energy.

22082009615

They also last about ten times longer than conventional bulbs. I assume the design, which includes a whole bunch of individual LEDs, also allows for some redundancy, so some can fail but the entire light doesn’t stop working.

Fascinating stuff, huh?