DIY tools to insulate and bust drafts
Did you know you could save as much as 20% off your heating bills this winter just by closing up drafts? And while most people call in a contract for big insulating jobs in walls and ceilings, there are quite a few DIY ways you can eliminate drafts. Here are 10 tips that take only a few minutes, but can save you big in energy costs.
#1 Get a Stylish Door Snake
Drafty doorways are an energy sucking culprit. A door snake keeps drafts out by blocking the crack under your door. You can find affordable snakes to match your décor, such as this cute kitty one from Bed, Bath and Beyond, for under $15 online.
You don’t have to buy a door snake. Anything with good insulating power will work, like a rolled up an old blanket, works well too. I made one from old socks sewn together into a long tube, then stuffed it with more old unmatched socks. A gap of just 1/8” under your door equals the same energy loss as if someone punched a 2.4-inch diameter hole in the exterior wall of your home, so it is definitely worth the effort.
Door snakes can also be used during the summer to keep cool air inside from escaping.
#2 Don’t Stop at the Threshold
While under the door may be the biggest crack, the little gaps around the rest of door frame window adds up to a major source of heat loss.
Fortunately, insulating these areas are simple and quick using peel-and-stick foam tape– no tools required!
#3 Caulk around outside vents
Gaps that people often overlook include the hole in the wall around where your dryer and bathroom vents exit the house. Fill gaps with a silicon caulk on the outside edge of the vents, where it meets the wall.
Filling these cracks are also a good way to keep bugs and other critters from sneaking in to try and find warmth and shelter inside your house.
#3 Use Insulating Curtains- the Right Way
Heavy curtains made of think material make a great insulator around windows. However, make sure to open up the curtains during sunny winter days. Winter sunshine helps heat your home, not to mention lifting your mood.
Use the same curtains in an opposite way during the summer- close them during the heat of the day to keep the house cool, and open them in the evening and early morning for light and air flow.
#5 Install Window Insulation Film
Window film is especially helpful to older, single pane glass, adding a layer of cold-blocking plastic that reduces heat loss by around 10%. It’s affordable and kind of fun to install. First, clean and dry the insides of your windows. Cut the specialty plastic to size, tape in place on the window, then use a blow dryer to adhere the plastic to the glass. It won’t block natural light, so you can have your sunshine and your insulated window, too. You can also use this on sliding glass doors. With one kit, you can cover five 3’x5’ windows for under $20.
#6 Add Foam Board to Patio Doors
Another option is to cover some vast expanses of glass- like patio doors- with insulating foam panels. Cut the panel to fit the door, and slip it into the doorframe in the winter. Come spring, you can remove the panels when you are ready to install screens.
#7 Put Insulation Sleeves on Water Heater Pipes
Minnesota is known for weather extremes that can happen in one day. Don’t be caught off guard and end up with broken water pipes. By wrapping pipes in an insulated pipe sleeve, you not only protect them from freezing, you’ll raise the water temperatue by about 4 degrees.
#8 Wrap Your Water Heater in an Insulation Blanket
If your water heater is in an unheated part of the house, or is an older, less efficient model, an insulated blanket could save as much as !6% of energy costs. There are different types of insulating blankets for gas heaters vs an electric on. Make sure to read instructions carefully.
#9 Plug up that Fireplace
Keeping a fireplace open during the winter can suck up as much as 30% of your heating budget. Heat from your house is drafted up the chimney, and cold air can make its way down the chimney. An easy to install fireplace plug is an inflatable piece of urethane that you stick in the hearth when you’re not using it. The plug fills the space like a balloon, keeping cold air out and warm air in. Just make sure to remove it before lighting a fire, or before Santa arrives.
#10 Install an Attic Stairway Insulator
Like other doorways, the hatch in your ceiling leading to the attic is a drafty energy thief. The door in your ceiling that leads to the attic is another source of money-sucking drafts. An attic stairway insulator (also called a stair cover) is a good investment. This tent-like insert is typically made of foam, aluminum-coated fabric, or fiberglass that you can strap or staple into the doorway. Look for one with a zipper opening so you can still access the attic without pulling out the insulator.