T-t-t-ime To In-n-n-sulate | Seventh Generation
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T-t-t-ime To In-n-n-sulate

Author: the Inkslinger

S-s-s-sorry this sentence is so h-h-h-hard to read. But it is so c-c-c-cold here today that my k-k-k-eyboard is shiv-v-v-ering.

I'm not kidding. It's a serious Vermontsicle out there. The thermometer read minus 20 this morning, and I got frostbite just looking at it. It's so cold that my wife's hot morning cup of Earl Gray was iced tea by the time she got it to the car, and my daughter has started to learn Inuit. The dog froze solid when we let her out and probably won't need to be walked again until April. And we can shut off the ice machine because now we just chip whatever we need off the inside of our windows.

When it's this frigid, insulation and BTUs are all that stand between you and life as a penguin. The good news is that there are a bunch of simple and inexpensive but highly effective ways to keep the arctic out:

  • If you have older and/or leaky windows, look into buying plastic sheeting window insulating kits. They're easy to use and a worthwhile way to freeze out drafts throughout the house.
  • Roll up old bath towels and press them against the base of entrance doors to block air leaks. Or buy or make a stuffed "draft snake" which does the same thing but looks prettier.
  • Seal your unused outlets with inexpensive plastic plugs from the hardware store.
  • Keep your curtains and blinds closed except for those facing the sun. These should be opened during the day to let in solar heat.
  • If you have a reversible ceiling fan, run it clockwise to circulate warm air.
  • Check your heat vents and radiators for obstructions and make sure that heat is flowing freely.
  • Close off unused rooms so there's more heat in your living spaces and less places for drafts to occur.
  • Cover bare floors with area rugs to keep cold out from underfoot.
  • Make sweaters your new best friend, and don't be shy about wearing a hat around the house. Drink hot drinks, and warm yourself from the inside out.

G-g-g-g-good l-l-l-l-l-l-luck!

photo: m.prinke


jmstew22 picture
according to rorrytbellows you shouldn't fuss with fans during the winter when you most definitely should. Most homes/apartments have radiators or baseboard heating and the heat from these mechanisms is not distributed throughout your living space properly. Have high/cathedral ceilings? Then chances are a good bulk of your heat is hanging around up there. Unless you are one of the few people who walks on the ceilings then getting that heat down to floor level is crucial. Throw the fan in reverse at the lowest speed in order to gently pull the cold air UP from the ground level while the heat hanging out alone by the ceiling is then pushed back down as a result of the slow air movement. If you can feel the air moving around you then perhaps your fan is too strong for this strategy.
ZenRuth picture
You Yankees can't do it now, but this summer, go outside on a ladder with some clear caulk and cover every visible crack in your house, windows, roof eaves, etc. I had someone do this about 3 years ago, because of an ant problem. The next winter (well, it's Texas, but we call it "winter"), I noticed my heat bill was down about 15%. I realized I had been losing a lot of heat through all those exterior cracks. It helps in our hot southern summers, too.
kacyf2 picture
There are a lot of products and services to help you conserve energy available. Even if you don't purchase the products, you can still get some great ideas and information on what is available. Check out www.greenirene.com/kacytxk
rorrytbellows picture
...with a modern heating system, ie. a duct system, you should not "Close off unused rooms". The heating system and return are sized according to the entire volume of your home. When the HVAC contractor who sizes the system, measures this it is based on a one-in-one-out system. The air coming from your supply registers is equal to the air that is being requested for the return. When the room is closed off, the return will "find" air, wether through cracks in windows and doors, backdrafting down the chimney (smokey smell?), or through the attic. All of these areas are unconditioned and unfiltered "replacements" for the air not making it back to the return which will reduce the heating unit's efficiency and cause it to work harder than intended, cutting the life of the system and increasing the cost to run it. Also ceiling fans don't actually change the environment, they do produce some heat in the form of electricity, but the only way they make a tangible difference is when the air passes your skin causing sweat to evaporate. In short, fans only really make a difference in the summer when you are actually under it.
6mickey6 picture
one more thing.. I try the ' passive solar heat' as much as possible.. We have east and south facing windows so first thing in the morning on sunny days,, the blinds come open to let that great sunshine in and when the sun goes down, they get closed to try to keep the heat in. When my sons moved out, we closed up one room and I swear the heating bill dropped or at least we get more heat in the rest of the house
6mickey6 picture
Here in southern Ontario.. I have used the plastic for the windows for many years.. We have the old slider type windows so they are very drafty. We are slowly replacing windows as budget allows.. A friend suggested reusing the plastic so I even do that as much as I can.. You just have to replace the double face type which in turn saves money and doesn't waste the plastic.. Now as long as the cats don't decide that they want in the window and sink their claws in the plastic, I can usually get a couple of seasons out of the plastic.. Not recommended tho is the stuff from the $1.00 store.. It isn't as clear, it doesn't do the job but once you take it off, in the spring, it usually sticks to the tape and tears so I used it last year but am using the better stuff this year.. Usually a store has it on sale in the early fall so that also cuts expenses.
bookworm81 picture
We used them last winter on our 1970's single pane windows and they made a huge difference. We've since moved into a new (to us) house where the previous owners had energy efficient windows put in a few years ago. I would still have gotten them for some of our bigger windows if the windows didn't have ledge at the bottom that sticks out too far for the film to work.