Winter weather may be heralded in by the holiday season, but the blasts of snow, ice and bone-chilling cold that accompany it are seldom considered reasons to celebrate. For many families, the ever-increasing cost of gas, fuel oil and electricity make winter a daily struggle to keep their homes and families warm without wrecking the budget. Those that live in older or poorly insulated homes face an even tougher battle and may not have the funds needed to remodel the home or even increase the amount of insulation required to make it warmer. Thankfully, there are some creative, yet affordable, ways to help you keep cold air out and keep your family more comfortable this winter.
Source the Drafts
One of the biggest problems related to keeping the interior temperature of a home stable is simply keeping warm air in and cold air out. Even tiny openings can cause heat loss and the infiltration of colder, outdoor air. These problems are more than just uncomfortable. They also make your furnace work harder and burn more fuel as it attempts to stabilize the temperature in the home. In many cases, the occupants of the home may know that certain rooms do not feel as comfortable as others, yet be unaware of the source of the drafts that cause this problem.
To find draft issues, spend a few minutes examining the interior surfaces of any walls that form the exterior of your home, or those that separate one room from an unheated area, such as a garage or porch. Feel for areas that seem colder to the touch as well as any cracks or seams, especially around doors, windows, or plumbing, electrical and other connections that come through the walls. Holding a lit candle or cigarette lighter a few inches from these areas and watching to see if the flame flickers will help you to locate places where air is infiltrating the wall. Use this same test to discover leaky panes in windows and doors, as well.
Dealing With Drafts From Old Windows
Extra blankets, old flannel sheets and quilts can do double duty during the winter months as insulating barriers for drafty windows. Temporarily remove curtains or draperies, or pull them aside. Then install a cup hook in the upper corner of each window frame and attach a thin wire from one hook to the other, stretching it as tightly as possible. Carefully hang the sheet or blanket over the wire, folding it as necessary so that it will remain hidden behind the existing curtains or draperies, yet block the drafts from the window.
Attractive quilts or pretty blankets can be installed on a curtain rod in place of regular curtains to form an insulating window covering or hung directly over problem walls. Remember to make sure that no fabric can come into contact with any type of heat source to prevent the risk of fire.
Sealing Off Unused Fireplaces
If the home has a fireplace that is not used, it could be the cause of higher heating bills. To avoid this problem, make sure the damper is in the closed position and fireplace doors are kept tightly closed. If there are no doors, craft an insulated cover out of common household materials to achieve the same effect.
Carefully measure and cut two pieces of heavy cardboard to fit the fireplace opening. Glue a layer of old packing peanuts or leftover carpet between the layers to act as insulation and then use tape to put the pieces together like a sandwich. Cover the entire thing with an attractive scrap of fabric or leftover wrapping paper and then insert it carefully into the opening of the fireplace. This is an attractive way to block any drafts that come down the chimney and keep warmer air from the room from being sucked back up.
Invest in a Furnace Checkup
In addition to sealing out drafts, making the home as comfortable as possible will depend upon how well the furnace is performing. A furnace that has been overworked in a drafty home should be cleaned and checked by a reputable heating repair service. The technician can check all the components for excessive wear or damage to help the homeowner avoid expensive emergency repair bills later on. In addition, this will help the furnace work more efficiently and keep the heating bills as low as possible this winter.
Check out sites like http://www.capefearair.com for more information.