How To Use Snow For Insulation

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How To Use Snow For Insulation

It’s that time of year again – snow season. If you live in a nice, new home you will already have good insulation that keeps your heat in and your heating bill as low as possible.

But if you don’t, you’re probably dreading those drafts. You probably attempt to block the drafts, or even you even block off entire rooms attempting to keep the house heat, but however regarding using snow for insulation?

If you’re an avid reader of consumer Reports, the bad news is that heating costs will sky-rocket this winter. Yes, you heard that right. Again!

In the scary side of the news, scientists currently believe that we’re going to enter a mini-Ice Age, many years ahead, due to Sun’s slowing activity. Indeed, goodbye global warming, hello Ice Age.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the average American household spends approximately $930 every winter on heating costs alone, and we’re talking about homes heating primarily with electricity. The figure is higher for people using propane ($1417) and lower for natural gas ($578).

Anyway, you want to keep in mind that these figures are sourced for this winter’s forecast, which is anticipated to be very mild, milder than in the previous years. Mild or not, I bet it’s going to be very cold, particularly if you’re not living in Florida.

Fortunately, there are things that may be done to mitigate the cold winter months ahead, thus keep reading. I mean, regardless of the NOA predictions or what the Farmer’s Almanac says, if you’ll be able to cut on your heating bill won’t hurt you, right?

A Few Survival Models to Copy

Now, if you’re the outdoors type, you most likely detected that wild animals and even stray dogs sometimes bury themselves in the snow when it’s freezing, and there’s an honest reason for that.

Basically, they dig a hole in the snow and they manage to survive in that fashion even in -20 F temperatures. There are even species of animals that dig snow-burrows, where they hibernate for months, during the winter season. This obviously means that snow makes for a wonderful insulator.

Also, you may be familiar with the idea of igloos. You know, those “houses” made of snow, or snow huts inuit folks are usually associated with. Besides igloos, inuit people used snow on a day to day to insulate their whalebone/hide-made shelters. What makes snow such a good insulator?

Well, the solution is pretty straight forward: the air pockets which are treed in the snow make it an outstanding insulator.

Why Is the Snow Working for Insulation?

To get an inspiration, even if the outside temperatures are as low as nineteen degrees fahrenheit, in a snow hut you can achieve sixty one degrees fahrenheit using body heat alone, provided we’re talking a few burrow, not a palace; i.e. alittle fox-hole, massive enough to fit you, so it can be heated sufficiently by body temperature alone.

The best snow in terms of insulation is fresh snow, because it contains a high percentage of air caught between the ice crystals. Fresh snow is essentially all air, up to 95%, and that’s why it’s so light. Since the air is firmly trapped inside and it cannot move freely, the heat transfer is significantly reduced.

So, using snow for insulating your home doesn’t seem therefore farfetched now, does it? That brings us to the next factoid: did you know that ten inches of fresh snow, which is basically five to seven percent water, is the equivalent of a 6 in. layer of fiberglass insulation?

All these facts make snow the greenest insulator of them all (it’s natural, right?) and the least expensive too, because it’s like, you know, free?

Snow’s thermal conductivity, can be described mathematically and it works in tandem with the snow density. The denser the snow, the bigger thermal conductivity. So, if you wish to use snow for insulation purposes, the best snow is the fresh driven/super-light-fluffy snow, as heat moves through it relatively slowly.

Also, using snow for insulating your house spells fun, especially for your children, making it for an excellent DIY project. So, you can save some of your hard earned dollars while having a good time with your family if you do it the Pioneer method, just like our founding fathers!

Just think about the concept for a minute, isn’t it beautiful folks? It causes you to wonder regarding the old times, when folks knew squat about central heating (okay, perhaps excepting the Romans) and yet they managed to survive.

Yes, I know they’d wood stoves and stuff like that, yet they didn’t even dream regarding our high-tech fiber-glass insulation. Or did they? Truly, we’ve already shown that at least some of them did. Very cheap line is that when people have to create due, they tend to be quite inventive. Enter snow, the all green-all natural insulator used back in the day by the common people for insulation purposes.

How did they do it? Well, those living on farms used to drive six foot posts into the ground regarding three feet from the sides of the house, right before winter set in. After that, they used to pile straw between the house walls and also the several posts. After the first huge snow, they packed the snow over the straw, creating something resembling a wall of ice.

That insulating wall stayed there till the spring, when it melted away. This ingenious however primitive makeshift insulation very performed miracles, by keeping the winter cold out and the heat inside the house.

How to Make It Work

Now, imagine a blackout in the aftermath of a snow storm. No central heat or electric to power house heaters, and it’s going to get cold fast! You have to move the snow anyway, to clear your driveway and the sidewalks, so whereas you’re at it, why not put some elbow grease into the combination and pile a layer of snow up against your house?

It will assist you lots with insulation, just by shoveling it from the roof and the steps of your house. You’re killing two birds with one stone, right? The only factor to keep in mind is when spring comes around, you’ll have to shovel the snow away.

Another plan for putting the wintery blanket to good use would be to let it sit on your roof, depending on however solid the roof is built. If it’s designed properly, a layer of snow will offer you with extra insulation, for free, but just in case of heavy snow-fall, ensure you don’t allow more than 2 feet of snow to accumulate there.

Too much snow on your roof may translate into leaks, it may harm your roof once it slides off, or it may even collapse the roof, and that, obviously, would be pretty terrible.

Snow accumulating in decent amounts on your roof, while not melting in certain unusual spots, is a testimony that your attic is doing its job, meaning there’s no heat loss through the roof, due to poor insulation.

A properly insulated home doesn’t show bare patches of melted snow on the roof. Hence, beside its insulation benefits, snow will act as an early warning system.

If you own a log cabin, you can use snow for banking, to keep it heat during the winter season. Usually, log cabins tend to leak air; hence the heat escapes during the cold season. To mitigate this problem, they’re chinked with mud. Sooner or later though, especially when it gets very cold, the mud falls out, leaving cracks between the several logs.

After the first snow, you can use the snow to bank the cabin walls again. Do it anytime you can, till you pile up mounds of snow against the cabin’s walls, creating your own personal igloo on top of your log-cabin. In this manner, you’ll be considerably hotter inside, and if you live in a cold space, any extra degree inside would be welcome, don’t you think?

All things equal, while snow makes for an excellent insulator, don’t bet on snow alone for shielding you from the cold. I mean, what are you going to do if faced with a low snow year? If you have suggestions or comments?

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