Winter is coming and with the cold, energy bills tend to escalate. While insulation and double glazing are the best ways to save in the long run, their initial installation costs can be hefty. But, there’s no need to sit in the cold either. Here are some cheaper alternatives to heat your home without having to break the bank each month.
Thick curtains – Hanging up a thick set of curtains can protect your home from losing heat from the windows. You can invest in a set with thermal lining, and if you don’t want to buy a new set, you can simply add lining to your current curtains. Buy a cheap material like fleece and sew it on. This trick also works for doors that lead to outside, which can also make your home lose heat. Hang a curtain in front of these doors, or pin a thick blanket over the back of the door.
Let the sunshine in - Make use of sunlight during the day as this is a natural source of free heat. Keep your window shades and curtains open during the day and when dusk falls, close the curtains as this maximizes your home’s ability to retain heat.
Fake double-glazing – Double-glazing is an efficient but expensive way to keep your home warm. You can fake the effect by purchasing a film that you can paste over your single glazed windows. Use double sided tape to attach the film and then fix it with a hairdryer. You can replace the film every season. The only downside to this that if you open your windows you break the seal. A solution is to also buy self-adhesive foam strips to seal gaps at the edge of your windows. A longer lasting solution, but a little more pricey, would be to install metal or plastic strips, which can be used as draft excluders around door frames and door hinges.
Chimney balloon – Many homes have fireplaces that serve for merely decorative pieces for most of the year. Consequently, your unused chimney could be losing your home a lot of heat. Blocking your fireplace is an easy solution, but then you won’t be able to kindle a fire ever again. Instead, you can buy a chimney balloon, made from a special laminate, which blocks the chimney. The balloon may be installed inside the fireplace (out of sight) and when it’s inflated, it shuts out incoming cold air, or prevents heat from escaping. The best part about this is that you can remove it whenever you want to start a fire.
Draft excluders – These old fashioned door props used to be fairly common in households and were often decorated as sausage dogs because they vaguely resembled dachshunds. They would be wedged at the bottom of doors to prevent air from escaping through the bottom. A draft excluder can be any piece of material or clothing stuffed with insulating materials. Purchase one, or if you feel like a DIY project, make your own by stuffing a pair of tights with socks, rice, lentils or even gravel. Decorate them so they’re not an eyesore.
Beware of mini-drafts – Cold could be entering through the smallest of spaces, creating a mini-draft. The main areas to consider are letterboxes, wide keyholes in older homes, and dog or cat flaps. To cut out the air from your letterbox, install an extra barrier with a door brush. For drafts from keyholes, you can buy a keyhole cover that slips over the top of the hole. Pet flaps can be easily insulated with wool insulation or a small blanket.
Shut off unused rooms – This simple piece of advice can be effective in keeping heat insulated in the room you’ve spent time heating. Keeping the doors closed prevents any cold air from moving into other parts of the house.
Cover bare floorboards – While wooden floors look stylish, during the winter they tend to lose a lot of heat. For the winter, cover up with a rug or roll-up carpet. If you’re not that keen on covering up the floorboards, at least ensure that any cracks or gaps are filled - try squirting a silicone-based filler into them. Since many floorboards and baseboards expand and move slightly with everyday wear, make sure your filler is able to tolerate movement.
Insulated attic door – You can undo all your good insulation efforts by neglecting this one area. You can inexpensively insulate this door with the same self-adhesive strips you use for windows or doors. Another thing you can do to ensure all your hard work is not wasted, is check that no roof tiles are loose or missing. A loose tile or damaged roof can mean water enters your attic, which can ruin the efficiency of your insulated attic door. The hardest part is getting up to the roof to check if there’s any damage. If you can safely do so, replacing a few tiles can be a relatively cheap way to prevent major repairs so that you have a warm house for the winter.