Oily rag: Pop the plastic, it's fantastic

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The oily rag community is electric with their latest scientific discovery. Some say it is the most far-reaching discovery of the new millennium. No it's not the discovery of the God Particle in a European tunnel that has everyone excited - it's bubble wrap.

Who would have thought that humble packaging material, bubble wrap, is also a great insulator when affixed to windows?

Since an oily rag reader mentioned it a few weeks ago, we've been "wrapped" with the response.

A.G. from Christchurch writes: "I just saw your column mentioning bubble wrap for window insulation. The contributor recommended sticking the wrap to the window with a little water. I tried that, but found it fiddly. They also mentioned stationery stores as a source for bubble wrap, but if you buy it there you're paying over four times the wholesale price.

"I ended up buying a roll of jumbo bubble wrap, plus two rolls of wide, clear packing tape and dispenser from a packaging supply company for about $100. This was enough to do a four-bedroom house and garage with enough left over for my brother to do a few rooms in his house. Do it on fine day so there is less humidity (after washing windows and surrounds the day before) and after tacking the bubble wrap up with a piece of tape in each corner, you tape all the edges to the aluminium window frame to create a sealed unit.

"Before doing this, our heat pump couldn't keep up with the energy loss through the windows. Now the heat pump has no trouble warming the house to a comfortable temperature. The $100 spent was paid back in no time and the landlord doesn't have to put up with our whining about the cold house. Bonus: hardly any condensation. Best $100 I ever spent. Do it!"

Heavens knows where this new discovery will go - see-through bubble wrap? Jumbo bubbles to use in wall and ceiling cavities? Suction bubble-wrap curtains that cling to windows and walls?

That's the thing about science - be it the science of subatomic mass-attracting particles circulating in an expansive atom smasher, or the science of support attracting oily rag ideas - it's a journey into a brighter and better future where things cost less than they do today.

Julie from Napier also has a tip that she thinks is world-changing when in comes to kids eating their greens. "After cooking the silver beet, we always put some mint sauce on it and found that the kids ate it."

And to all you flour buyers in New Plymouth: Sue is a keen baker and wants to know where she can buy the cheapest flour. Can you help Sue? If you live in New Plymouth area, how much do you pay for flour?

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips at www.oilyrag.co.nz.

- Hamilton News

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