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  • Writer's pictureKate

Activity of the day: Ventilation challenge and doorstop creator

If you have early risers in the house, this is a very good activity for first thing in the morning!

We have a bit of a difficulty with night time ventilation since two of our children can't have windows open when they're in their bedrooms due to difficulties with impulse control (windows don't like being swung on. Or out of. Nor do light fittings...). But it's not a disaster- the air temperature outside is lowest first thing in the morning, so early morning ventilation once you're all up and about is perfect. Just be aware that with more or less all eco friendly measures, there are no short cuts and you have to keep doing it- you'll have a cooler bedroom the night AFTER you ventilate appropriately and shade during the day... and ventilating well lots of early mornings in a row plus consistent good shading will have a better effect than remembering once then forgetting for a few days.

To cool a home as much as possible, it's best to open every window and door you can. If there's any breeze at all, this will make doors slam. So use doorstops, chairs or other heavy things to prop them open. Painted or papier mache rocks or bricks make very nice doorstops- see below!

Activity: Make your perfect doorstop

You will need:

  • Acrylic paints, pens, crayons or whatever you like work brilliantly

  • A rock, brick or leftover heavy something!

For a covered doorstop you'll also need

  • Papier mache paste

  • Scrap cardboard

  • Scrap paper

  • Masking tape (not essential but useful to hold everything in place until you get the paste pieces on)

  • Scissors or a craft knife

Here are the doorstops we made:

This is a big stone which was dug up in the garden. The stone painting craze from a couple of years ago was a great inspiration here- this mini artist loved finding ladybirds in particular, so has painted this doorstop as a giant ladybird (we think it's like Gaston from Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom!).

Bricks are a bit on the sharp and rough side- not so nice to have in the house. Here, we wrapped an old brick (there always seem to be old bricks lying about places!) in a carboard box then cut it to look like a castle with crenellations. We covered the whole thing in 2-3 layers of papier mache to make it look nicer and strengthen it, then painted it with acrylics the next day. Papier mache is surprisingly strong but not indestructible- do be a little bit careful with moving these weights as they won't like being swung about!

We like to use a cooked papier mache paste as you only need a tiny bit of flour to make quite a lot of paste (1 dessert spoon flour to 1 mug water seems to work well) but there are good no-cook options too. Here are some good recipes.

...Or you could use scrap fabric to make a funky doorstop like these: But please stuff them with sand or gravel or similar- not with food like rice!

Teaching everyone in the household how to avoid slamming doors has been a great way to keep my nerves intact- at least now if things slam (in the breeze, not a tantrum), I can tell everyone else to make it stop!

To keep things cool using ventilation, follow the same rules as for yesterday's window shading challenge, with one difference:

Stand in the SHADE outdoors.

If the air outside feels cooler than inside, it's OK to have the windows open. Sometimes the feeling of cool may be because of a breeze, even if the actual temperature is a bit warmer than outside. That's not a problem- the point is to keep yourselves comfortable. If the breeze and similar temperature will make you more comfortable with the windows open, keep the windows open!

You'll get more ventilation with curtains and blinds open, but if the sun is shining on a window, keep the blinds and curtains closed at the same time that the windows are open.

You need to close windows for security and safety reasons whenever that becomes necessary, obviously- but in terms of overheating-

Close the windows when the SHADE temperature outside feels hotter than or close to the temperature inside.

The air temperature tends to stay low enough for windows to be open for quite a bit of the morning (even on a very hot day, up to say 10am where we are in Derby, and usually even later than that) even though blinds and curtains will need to be closed well before then. In the evening, the air temperature often takes longer to drop, so after a hot day it may be 9pm or even later before it's a good plan to open the windows again.

Given that our summers aren't that hot, most days the air temperature isn't so hot that windows need closing at all, depending where you live. If your home looks out over green space, you may be able to leave windows open all day except on the very hottest days. If you overlook streets or other hard surfaces, the local air temperature can get very high (easily above 40 degrees C) so it's a good idea to avoid letting that air into your house!

We're lucky enough to have a garden at the front and back of our house- but the big area of lots of gardens all together at the back means the air temperature at the back of the house is usually a lot lower than the temperature at the front, where the road surface really heats things up.

Combining shading and ventilation is tricky as they're very similar ideas but do work a bit differently: Shading and windows need to be open at slightly different times to work best. But don't worry- it doesn't need to be perfect, and if it works better for you to open and close everything all at the same time then that's fine too- as long as the sun stays out of the house and some fresh air makes it in, that's all that matters!

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