Today is Tuesday, and normally this afternoon I would visit my friend Alain the guitarist to make some music, but his milking machine has frozen up, he has spent all morning thawing it, and so he is behind with his work. This gives me an opportunity to work on a little DIY project that has been gently nagging me for far too long.
I have to heat the gîte during the Winter to keep the condensation away. It doesn't have to be very warm, say 10-12 degrees or so, but even so it does consume fuel and it's sensible to economise where possible. The dining room has a fireplace that makes for a lovely cheery fire when it's lit, but, in the traditional way of these things, it is under a chimney that leads straight up into the open air. If I look up it, I can see the cobwebs swaying gently in the warm breeze of wasted heat. So I need something to block it up when it's not in use.
There are some old bits of iron hanging at the back of the fireplace that used to hold pots and things for cooking. I will leave them in place because I like them, so I'll need to take this into account. I have bought the necessary components recently: a big bit of plywood about the same size as the hole, and some draft excluder like a long thin brush to go around the edge. Some nice metal handles I had already, left over from a previous project.
So, first attach the handles to the plywood, and then the draft excluder around the edge on the other side, and it's ready for use. There is also a bit of draft excluder around the cut-out for the hooks.
Finally, put it in place. You can't see it from inside the room, but it's there, keeping the place less drafty than before. Job done! The cost? About 1.5% of my annual fuel bill. So even if it only gives a saving of 1.5% of the heat lost by the building, the payback period is a year. I reckon personally, that what is effectively an open window, about 3/4 of a square metre in area, will probably account for much more than 1.5% of a building's lost heat. I don't know how much exactly, but I have this feeling that perhaps I should have done this project sooner....