More from the book:
Keeping the cold outside
“Cold in winter and heat in summer get in through any openings or thinner places in the outer shell of the house. Here’s what my local utility website has to say:
“If your home was built before 1982, it should be checked to see if it has R19 insulation, about six inches deep, across your entire attic. Energy Star® estimates that you can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs (or up to ten percent on the total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating the “envelope” of your home – its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floors. You can have your attic checked for adequate insulation by scheduling a free Home Energy Survey. If you do need ceiling insulation, FPL can help you pay part of the cost with rebates up to $300.”
If you live where it snows, you can detect internal heat leaks by checking the roof. If one area thaws faster than others do, then heat is getting into the attic from a specific area. If your whole roof is thawed, and your neighbors’ roofs aren’t, you seriously need some insulation.
If you have a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when you’re not using it. If the flue is open, the chimney will let your heated (or cooled) air escape from the house. To prevent fires, have your chimney cleaned every year, if you use it. If your neighbors also have fireplaces, maybe the chimney sweep would give you a group discount.
Living in an older home calls for lots of caulk and tape. One house I lived in, I went all around the outside filling holes with caulk. Anywhere a wire or pipe enters the house, the opening around it will let in outside air. My current raggedy windows have been repaired with clear tape where there’s a small gap between the glass and the frame. It doesn’t show, and I don’t feel any more outside air coming in there than from any other parts of the windows.
The spray foam insulation that comes in a can is useful and versatile. It has a plastic wand to get it into narrow or awkward spaces. Once sprayed into a crack or hole, it expands to fill it completely. It’s easy to use too much. Wait and let it expand to see if you need to spray more.
This foam can catch fire, so don’t use it near pilot lights or other open flames. Don’t use it in a place that gets hot for long periods, such as behind an oven. One online reviewer said that the can he had very quickly became too clogged to spray anymore. A poster on http://www.thriftyfun.com said that DAPtex Plus Multi-Purpose Foam Sealant is easy to clean up after. He could rinse out the applicator straw and reuse it later.
Another factor in feeling warm is to keep drafts down. Try heavy insulated drapes over the windows and “draft stoppers” or “draft snakes” at the bottom of doors. They will prevent chilling drafts and make the room feel warmer. There are many patterns and ideas online for making these draft stoppers. A quick way to make one is to lay a towel along the bottom of the door and snug it up to the crack with your foot.
A more permanent method is to buy a door sweep at a hardware or home improvement store. They fasten to the bottom of the door with either screws or a self-adhesive strip. A combination of both door sweep and draft stopper will work the best.
If you have window unit air conditioners that stay in place all year, be sure to block drafts from them. Set the dial so the vent is closed. I’ve seen the outside of these wrapped up in blankets and fastened with a bungee cord. Readymade covers are available for $10 to $20.
You’ll also feel warmer if you move your chair, couch or bed a few inches away from the outside walls.”
Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.