Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

27 12 2010

I don’t know about you, but here in the northeast, it has been COLD.

I’ve been having to turn the heat up more (which I hate to do) and so my heating bills have gone up and up.  I decided to make some small changes around the house to make it a little more energy efficient in the hopes that my house will stay a little warmer.

Outlet Insulation

One of the things I picked up at Lowes were outlet and switch insulation – these are little foam pieces cut to fit in switches and outlets.

They come in a packet of six

The only tool you need is a screwdriver.  So I first unscrewed the switch cover – I should note here that apparently it’s recommended that you first turn off the power whenever doing anything with electricity (including the outlet covers).  I don’t, but I wanted to make that point!

There was no insulation in there

According to the instructions on the back of the packaging, I was first supposed to remove the insulation in there – but there wasn’t any.  What there was – a breeze.  I could feel the cold air seeping through.  So I think the insulation will be making a big difference, particularly since I have a LOT of outlets and switches in my house for some reason.

Next, insert the foam piece.

I just punched out the spot for the switch and screw holes very easily and placed the foam piece in the opening

Then, screw the cover back on – very easy.  It does add a little bit of padding, so I had to push the cover a bit to get it flush with the wall, but it came out great.

You can’t even tell that there’s insulation behind there, but it should make a big difference!  (And yes, it’s a big pet peeve of mine that the switch plate is white, while the switch is tan – that’s a theme I found in this house when I moved in, everything was painted off white or tan so it looked dirty.  Very depressing. Maybe at some stage I’ll switch these out, but it’s not a priority for me).

Sealing Windows

Something that my parents have done for years is to seal their windows using special kits from the hardware store.  I’ve noticed a definite breeze from my own windows (even though all of the upstairs windows were replaced not too long ago, I don’t think they did a very good job, since most of them are not properly sealed – allowing moisture to seep in – and there’s a breeze.  But that’s also a project for the future).

I decided that this winter, with colder and colder temps predicted, I would seal mine also.  It was a much easier process than I thought.  I started with only a few windows, since I have electric candles in some of them for the holidays and wanted to be able to turn them on until Christmas was over.  So I’ll be sealing those ones when I get back from vacation.

I purchased kits in two sizes – one for standard windows with enough tape and plastic for nine windows (I’m doing 7 windows) and two for larger size windows – the windows in my living room and dining room are four and five panel windows.

The first step is to tape around the window with the included double sided tape.  You then leave this for 15 minutes to make sure that it’s properly adhered.

I had to get a stepladder to tape the top, and it wasn't always super convenient with my window treatments, but it didn't take me too long

Once the tape is set, you start at the top of the window by peeling off the paper backing to expose the sticky side.  Adhere the plastic, with one inch overhang on each side.  Once I did the top, I did each of the sides, and then the bottom.

Taped to the top

Taped all around

As you can see from that second picture, the plastic is still very wrinkled.  As you can also see, I had to tape my shade inside of the plastic, so I won’t be able to open them until I take the plastic off in the spring. This isn’t a problem in here because that’s my bedroom.  But it might get to me in the office after a while.

Downstairs, in the living room, because of the curtains, I’ll be sealing the window with the shade up, and opening and closing the curtain to let light in or have privacy.  And since in my living room the shade is mounted outside of the windows, I can easily seal underneath it.

To finish off the project, you take a hair dryer on it’s hottest setting, and starting at one corner of the plastic, heat it until the wrinkles have disappeared.  Be careful at this point to watch the edges, because sometimes as the plastic constricts, it can let go.

Starting the process

Almost done!

Because some of my windows aren’t standard size, there was a lot of plastic left over at the bottom. So I just cut it off after sealing them up.

Here's hoping this makes the house snuggly!

Once I’m back from my holiday break, I’ll be sealing the other windows and doing a couple of other things to warm up the house.  I picked up some foam insulation for the doors – I think they’re pretty well sealed, but I’m going to double check it.  I also picked up some “draft dodgers” as they’re called for under my front and back doors.  I have to admit that they’re really annoying, because although it says they open and close easily over all floors, that’s not entirely true.

Every time I open the door and go to close it, it slides out a little so I can’t close the door. I have to open it again to push it back, and then hold up the outside piece to make sure it slides over the doorstep.  But I can feel a breeze underneath the door otherwise, so I’m willing to deal with a bit of annoyance if it helps keep my house a bit warmer!

I suppose I’ll see in the next couple of months whether or not it makes a difference in my heating bills.  What changes have you made to make your house more energy efficient for the winter?

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