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Monday, 7 December 2009

60 second DIY ironing board upgrade

I hate ironing, but I also hate wrinkles, so I'm always on the lookout for anything to make the task quicker. And it doesn't get much quicker than this!

The other day I noticed a special ironing board cover for sale at my local grocery store. It had a metallic coating underneath that reflected the heat from the ironing board back to the clothes, allowing you to effectively iron both sides of a garment at once. It also had some other features, like a color-changing fabric, but I figured I could duplicate the effect at home with a little aluminium foil.

How to do it:

  1. Remove the fabric cover from your current ironing board, leaving the foam sheet in place.
  2. Put a layer of aluminium foil, shiny side up, over the ironing board, on top of the foam sheet.
  3. Put the fabric cover back in place.
  4. Iron as usual.
Very simple, very cheap, very effective. Try it!

Old house gets an energy boost

We just bought ourselves a house and we couldn't be more thrilled. It's an old fixer-upper, so we were able to get everything on our wish-list (lots of square feet, a beautiful garden, great location) except for, of course, a home in mint condition. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of DIY home improvement themed posts in the future.

Anyway, last weekend's project was getting our heating bill under control. Our house is nearly 100 years old and has little to no insulation, especially in the attic. As a result, the furnace was working overtime and we were biting our nails, stressing about how much oil was left in the tank.

So, to keep all our precious heat from escaping through the roof, we spent the greater part of Sunday laying insulation on the attic floor. The idea is that the insulation will stop the heat from entering the attic and heating up a space we don't use. Luckily for us, our attic is high enough to stand up in, so laying down the insulation was a fairly easy task. On the downside, the attic is huge, so there was a lot of insulation to buy.

To keep our costs down, we spent a few weeks researching the prices at different local shops. Eventually we found some glass wool insulation on sale. Even with our large attic and the high price of materials in Denmark (everything costs more here, not least due to a 25% sales tax), this project cost us only a couple hundred dollars. It pays to look for discounts.

The hardest part of this project was lugging the big bags of insulation up the stairs. Laying it down on the floor was relatively easy and quick. But, as with all DIY projects, planning is key. Here are some tips you should consider:

  • Measure the floorspace of your attic carefully so you don't buy more insulation than you need. Most stores will let you return unopened packages, but you'll waste time and money driving them back to the store.
  • Clear a space in your house or garage to store the insulation before you bring it home or have it delivered. You may not be able to put the insulation in the attic the same day you purchase it and glass wool insulation takes up a LOT of space.
  • If you don't own a trailer or truck to bring the insulation back to your home, make sure you factor the price of delivery into your total cost comparison between stores. We found a store that would let us borrow a trailer for free.
  • Remember to wear proper safety equipment, like gloves and face masks. If you need to purchase these things, put them on the list now, so you don't forget and have to make another trip to the hardware store.
Since completing this project, we've noticed a huge difference in the temperature in the attic. Before, it was pretty warm. Now when I open the attic door a wave of cold air hits me. That's a lot of heat we're saving and the furnace can take a break.

All in all, this project was a success. Laying glass wool insulation on the attic floor is a cheap and cost effective way to make an old house just a little more energy efficient.