It's been winter here in New England for a while now. Freezing temps most nights, ground frost 4 inches deep, a dusting of white on everything and if you touch your tongue to a steel post, you'll be there until spring.
Even my in-laws in Naples, Florida are complaining that it's cold. Although what Naples calls cold is T-shirt weather up here. Either way, it's time to make the indoors snug and warm for the season.
My dad always told us to "put on a sweater" if we complained about being cold, but here are 10 additional easy things you can do to make sure you and your house are snug as a bug in a rug this winter. None of them are rocket science.
- Check your weather stripping. The best heat is the heat you can keep inside. Check for drafts around doors windows and anywhere a pipe or duct goes through a wall. Replace or install weather stripping anywhere you find a leak. Otherwise you'll be like the US Senate, spewing a lot of hot air.
- Add insulation. Yes, even if you've done it before, do it again. Cellulose is my favorite, from old newspapers, or insulation from blue jeans, but get more of something up there. Plus the Federal government will reimburse you for 30% of the cost. This is your bailout.
- Have an energy audit done to show any problem areas. An audit can show up air and energy leaks you never know you had, like that spot under the eaves near the garage. Close it up and insulate it.
- Cover your windows: You can do a quick cheap job with plastic or build "Winserts" to add an extra layer of warm still air between you and the cold.
- Lay down a rug. A rug will insulate from below and make your floors feel warmer underfoot. Even a small throw rug under your favorite chair will help.
- Tune up your furnace or boiler. An annual tune up and filter replacement will help your central heating unit operate more efficiently and effectively.
- Use a ceiling fan in reverse. Running your ceiling fan in reverse-most have reversing switches- pushes warm air pooled near the ceiling back down to where you are. You can save as much as 10% on your heating bill, too.
- Seal up your ductwork. You can lose up to 30% of your warm air through leaky ducts. This is why duct tape was invented, guys.
- Odds and Ends. Check that attic ladder, your dryer vent, fireplace chimney for leaks. Put a "draft snake" at your doors. A rolled up towel will do, but a nifty DIY draft snake will look neater. Draft snakes keep that air from creeping under your door and stealing your warmth.
- Unblock vents and radiators. Move that couch or bookcase from in front of that radiator or over that vent.
- Put on a sweater. Dad was right. Keeping your body warm is the issue, not heating up the house. A sweater will keep you feeling warm, safe and dry, and you'll need less energy to stay warm. Cup of hot tea won't hurt either. Good night!