In most homes, the heating bill is directly related two things: They are the amount of outdoor air that gets in and how well the house is insulated.
• The less outdoor air that can sneak in the lower the heating and air conditioning cost will be.
• The more insulation your house has the lower your energy bills will be for both heating and air conditioning.
12 inches of fiberglass insulation in the attic is pretty much standard now days. If you have less add more. Even more is better. Use your personal protective safety equipment especially gloves and a dust mask to prevent inhaling fibers. Look at what you have before you buy. Notice where the paper backing is on the insulation you now have, is it on top or bottom of the insulation? Is there a layer of foil or plastic as a vapor barrier? Where is it located? Then go talk to the folks at the building supply store. Follow their suggestions about what to use and how to put in the additional insulation. More insulation is likely to be worth the cost and effort because it helps both summer air conditioning and winter heating bills. For more about insulation click here.
Replace the screen in doors with safety glass or clear plastic for the winter to make a storm door.
If you have a screen door but do not have the glass panes to replace the screen you can cover the screen area with clear plastic film. Your friendly hardware store or building supply can help with clear plastic films to convert a screen door into a storm door. If you think this looks tacky just use several of your magic markers to color areas of the plastic film to look like stained glass. How classy is that?
Or you can cut out new clear Lexan or Plexiglas panes to replace the screen sections. For safety you need to use unbreakable “Safety Glass” or plastic on all doors.
Many folks just use good quality store bought storm doors all year and don’t use screen doors any more. They just don’t slam shut like good old screen doors. Click here to read about My New Storm Door.
Make sure that the storm door closes and latches tight. Check the weather striping on the top, bottom and both sides, fix or replace as needed.
Adjust or replace the door closer if it does not get the job done. Check the latch to make sure that the storm door stays completely closed when the wind blows.
Caulk any gaps around the frame of the storm door. Any gap between the door frame and house wall should be sealed.
Just like the outer storm door the main doors that you close and lock needs to fit in the frame well and latch with no air leaks around them. Check the weather stripping on the top, bottom, and both sides. Fix or replace weather stripping as needed to block the cold air. Click here to read more about weather stripping.
Make sure that any windows in the door don’t have loose glass. Caulk or putty around the window if needed.
Check around the door frame. Feel for air leakage. Caulk or seal any openings that let air sneak through. Take a close look where the door frame meets the building wall. If you can get a tooth pick or bent paper clip into the gap it needs to be caulked.
When it is time to replace a door make sure that you get a good quality insulated energy star replacement door.
If you have storm windows use them. The self storing aluminum frame storm windows are not the best energy savers but they are safer than using a ladder to put on the storm windows. Every layer of glass helps to keep the heat in so use them. The newer wood or vinyl frame windows are better energy leak stoppers. Your friendly hardware store or building supply can help with clear plastic films to convert window screens into storm windows. Click here to read more about using clear plastic film to make storm windows.
Lock the window closed. On double hung windows if the lock doesn’t line up it means that either the top sash as slid down a little or the bottom sash isn’t down tight. On most types of windows the lock helps to squeeze the window closed so lock it.
Make sure that each window section closes completely. Check around all four sides of each window sash or section. If you find even a small air leak fix it or install weather stripping to stop the air sneaking through.
Check all around the window frames. Check top, bottom and both sides. Check both inside and outdoors. Use a small flash light, even on a sunny day. This helps focus your attention at one small area at a time. Look for any little gaps, cracks or openings that need to be caulked or sealed. Take what you need to seal them up as you go. Wear a tool belt and take the radio with you to listen to your favorite team loose again.
Warning the hornets or wasps may have already found the good entry points and set up house keeping. If you find insects around a hole in the wall you can bet they are planning to enjoy the warm air from your furnace that is leaking out. Wait until after dark and spray in to the insect nest so you get them when they are all at home and a sleep. Don’t forget the flash light. The next day, after the excitement has died down, seal the hole to keep the insects from returning and to seal your heat in. Click here to read more about caulking.
You may want to add a layer of savings on the inside of some of your windows with plastic films. Basement windows and back entry way windows may be good candidates for this treatment as it may not look great but it will help save on the heating bill. When spring arrives peel them off carefully so they can be recycled next fall. 3M Scotch brand and others make good easy to use supplies for this job. You can use clear 4 mil thick vinyl on the outside or clear heat shrink plastic film on the inside. Click here to read more about adding clear plastic on the inside of your windows.
We use window quilts on the coldest winter nights. My wife makes simple quilts that we hang or Velcro to the window frame to keep warm on sub zero nights. Store bought window quilts used to be available with a layer of space age reflective plastic vapor barrier film in them. You can make quilts so they match the décor of your home if you like. They all look good to me when the lights are out. (Tip from the expert; use already bleached fabric on the side that gets the sunshine or the sun will bleach it for you.) Take the quilts down in the morning to enjoy the snowy scenery. They do muffle the noise of snow blowers and plows if you want to sleep in. Talk to me, I get a commission on all orders. Click here to read about How to make window quilts.
Replace or wash your furnace filter to keep the efficiency up.
Shut off the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans off as soon as you can. When you push air out of the house cold outdoor air will get in to replace it.
Keep some moisture in the house to make it feel warmer. Grow plants that you can water. Have a pet fish in an aquarium. Boil water for a hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa. Spiced hot apple cider and hot buttered rum are both good too.
Shut the heat off to rooms that you don’t use like the extra bedroom. This way the in laws can’t stay over.
Close chimney dampers and seal off unused fireplaces.
Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air to keep an even temperature in the house.
Keep the thermostst low. Turn it down at bed time. Turn it down when no one is home. Turn it down when the sun shines. Turn it way down when your mother in law visits. Turn it down during Monday night football. Turn it down during TV hockey games to get the feel of being at the rink. Just turn it down and buy a new sweater with the money you save.
Use a quilt or an electric blanket and turn the thermostat down even more at bed time.
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