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Living Less Unsustainably: Frost

John Fischer

Climate Master John Fischer here with LCC's Living Less Unsustainably. Next time we have a cold morning, head outside, or look through the windows, at the frosty rooftops. Check out the different way it melts off roofs facing the same way, and with the same pitch. And after you get your coat and hat, go outside and see how your roof compares.

You'll likely notice some homes stay white well into the morning, while others get a patchwork pattern of frosty and melted areas. The time, and order of how the frost melts gives you a good idea of where more heat is escaping from your home.

Earlier melting could mean that the house has the heat set to a higher temperature, or it could mean the house is less well insulated. If we get snow this year, the same information can be revealed about your home's insulation and heat losing areas, but over a matter of days instead of an hour or two.

Whether you use snow or frost- or even sleet, the same conclusions can be drawn. The roof that melts early indicates more heat escaping, and the need for more insulation.

Are the windows inside your home wet on cold mornings? It would be rare now, but you could still have single pane glass. Storm windows, or double pane replacements could help with comfort, cost, and reducing climate changing emissions from your home. Triple pane windows are becoming more common in new construction for both their insulating value, and their soundproofing qualities.

All of our local utility companies have programs to help with weatherization and new heating and cooling equipment. The Energy Trust of Oregon can provide additional help. A special heat sensing camera can show you where walls and windows are the big heat losers. But the frost and snow diagnosis requires no special equipment - just a willingness to accept the cold hard truth.

I'm John Fischer with Living Less Unsustainably.

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.