My family of four lives in a sweet cottage built almost 100 years ago in the Napa Valley. It has great bones and many original features (double-hung single-paned windows for instance). Charming in the summer but chilly in winter. In our first winter there, I quickly discovered a gaping gap under the front door, which allowed cold air to rush in. Sealing up the house and keeping warm became a mission. Here are a few tips I learned along the way.
Above: A neon knitted Draft Extruder from Kolor.
1) They're low tech, but draft extruders are an easy solution and require no sticking to frames. Gray felt extruders are on my DIY list.
2) Rubber foam insulation tape: it's not glamorous, but it does the trick. I tracked all the sources leaking cold in from the outside and armed with a roll of white tape, sealed the gaps under the doors, the inner door frames and the bits of the windows that were wonky. It typically comes in black but if you have white frames, seek out some white foam. Sponge Rubber Foam Tape is available at K-Mart for $4.99 or Double Sided Foam Insulation Tape is $19.99 from Eco Foil.
3) In addition to tape, we added a white door seal bottom that is easily stuck to the bottom of the door and adds an extra layer of insulation (and is barely noticeable). The Silver Cinch Door Seal Bottom is $10.47 from Home Depot.
Above: Not just for doors: consider draft stoppers for your windows, such as the No Sew Hairy Draft Stopper. Spotted on the site Bag of Pretty, this is nothing more than a faux fur rug rolled up and placed at the base of a window pane or at the bottom of a door.
Above: A wool blanket repurposed as a window shade, made by Matt Pierce from Wood&Faulk for ReadyMade.
4) Keep the curtains. In a very impulsive but aesthetically driven move, I took down all the curtains with their heavy rails and replaced them with simple white roller blinds. The effect was a much cleaner, lighter look and a heating bill that doubled. Yes, doubled. Love them or loathe them, curtains keep a house warm. My plan next winter is to install a wool blanket shade like the one above in all the bedrooms using some leather straps, then take them down when the weather gets warmer.
5) Heated Rugs: Decidedly low tech a heated floor mat hidden under a rug is a great way to heat a small space in a room. Cozy Winters offers Rug-Heat mats; prices run from $149 to $299, according to mat size, which range from two by three feet to five and a half by eight feet.
Finally, It's not rocket science, but think about heating the parts of the house that you are actually using. Shut off any rooms that are not used, closing vents or turning off radiators. It's what people in castles and grand houses do. Still cold? I like the way the Japanese combat the frigid winters by bathing in a scorching hot bath at the end of the day. Both a stress buster and an effective way to head to bed feeling warm.
What did we miss? If you have any ingenious solutions for keeping the house warm, please let us know in the comments section below. Thanks!
If you want to see more snappy ideas for living smarter, check out our Five Quick Fixes posts.