Baby It’s Cold…but not inside

winter-city-street

Even on beautiful days like today, I know the cold is coming. This is the time of year when we don’t know if we want to open the windows up here in NY or to pull out the extra blankets…so we do both. I don’t want to be caught off guard and wake up with ice on my toes one of these mornings. Now is the time to prepare.

The basics:

Check your windows. This sounds silly, but I have windows in my (older) home that don’t always close tightly. We say every year that we are going to replace them..then someone needs braces. Check every window. Make sure the lock is on if you have one. Cold air can sneak into the smallest of places. I had to pull out the sandpaper and actually touch up one of my windows for it to close totally.

Pull out the plastic storm windows. Wow…this makes a world of difference in my house! We have decent replacement windows downstairs so I don’t have to worry about those, but I do have to cover our upstairs windows. I start once we have a few cold nights. There are a few brands you can find. I’ve gotten boxes from Wal-Mart, Lowes, and on Amazon. You cut and tape. It’s a bit of a pain, but totally worth it! If you are renting this is great. Shop for the cheapest price. I’ve used the plastic storm windows for about 15 years and there really isn’t any difference in brand except for the price. Don’t forget your basement or attic windows!

Foam outlet insulators. Some of the window kits come with the foam inserts that you simply put behind the outlet plates. This just takes you unscrewing the screw in the plate and pushing the cover into place. You replace the cover plate and screw and you’re done.

Caulk around your window frames. This goes for even the newer replacement windows. You use the same tool you use to caulk around a bathtub. The silicon comes in clear and white. You can make a big difference even with old windows by taking a few steps to insulating them.

Door Draft Stoppers on every outside door…or even those “cold rooms” if you have one of those. My main “cold door” is the one leading to my garage. We don’t use it to go in and out, so I keep a stopper on it all winter. You don’t need to run out and buy one. There are a lot of great tutorials. Here is one I just found:  Door Snake Stopper. If you don’t sew, then you can honestly use long socks filled with rice and a tie on the top. Trust me, keeping the drafts from coming under outside doors makes a HUGE difference! So easy..and so helpful!

Insulated Curtains (blankets if you need to). I have some beautiful blankets from Mexico that I hang over certain windows. You have to open them to let any sun in during the day of course, but we get some COLD nights up here. I’ve made a few quilted lined curtains that I keep on some windows all year to keep out the hot sun in Summer as well as the cold. (tutorial on those soon)

Attic Doors: Seal these off for the winter if you don’t need access with duct tape if you need to. You could also build a small box of foam insulation to place above the door. (held together with duct tape;) ) If you have stair access you can treat the door with the Draft Stopper as some protection. Insulating your attic is the best way  to keep in your heat. (in my opinion, the best money we’ve spent)

Stop any drafts from escaping a fireplace. I love the idea of a fireplace, but I’m very glad that we don’t have one anymore.

Call your local insulating companies. Many states, (NY is one of them) offer programs to help pay for much of the upgrades. We had a lot done on our previous house and had to only pay for half. However, do your homework. The half that we did end up paying turned out to be more than we would have elected to have had done to make enough of a difference for us. ($5,000) Just saying, do your homework. We didn’t really need a $3,000 patio door. Sure, we only paid half..but the $500 door at Lowes would have been good enough. The outer wall and attic insulating was worth it, the rest…not so much. Get your quotes before you sign anything. They can do a full test on your home.

Check your furnace now. It’s hard to get someone to come out to fix it when it’s freezing outside and everyone is calling them. Change your filter and start the season out right. This saves life to your furnace as well as keeps your air cleaner.

This isn’t a comprehensive list..but it gets you started thinking about the cold ahead. I’m sorry to bring it up, but you know it’s coming.

One more thing, stock up on some cocoa. A warm cup of cocoa makes it all better when you are snuggled on the sofa with a good book.

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