Keep the Cold Out and the Warm In this Winter

Why Do I Have Icicles On My House?

Icicles often give a pretty wintery feel to houses along roof-lines and windows. Why do houses get icicles? Rather than a Currier and Ives holiday picture, icicles on your house mean that your home is losing heat. Icicles form when heat escapes from your roof or around your windows.

Remember the saying “Close the door! We’re not heating the outdoors!”? If you have icicles, that’s just what you’ve been doing. Heating the outdoors.

What Can I Do To Keep My House From Losing Heat In Winter – Long Term Solutions

  • Have a professional energy audit done on your home. While a professional audit can cost thousands of dollars initially, you can save the amount of your energy audit over only one or two winters if you follow the advice the auditor gives you along with the results.
  • Check for Government grants and rebates in your area for home renovations. I know here in Canada there are several thousand dollars in grant money available to homeowners who get an energy audit and make improvements to their homes to make them more energy efficient. These grants can cover much of the cost of improvements such as new energy efficient roof, windows, insulation, siding, furnaces and more. Do a little research to find out what grants or rebates your national and state governments are offering home owners.

By completing a home energy audit and the renovations required to your home to cut heat loss and energy consumption you can easily save enough to pay for that investment over the next 5 years. If you can find Government grants and rebates in your area you could see enough savings to pay for the initial investment in renovations and improvements to your home in as little as a year. A bonus is that your house will increase in value as a result of your investment as well.

What Can I Do To Keep My House From Losing Heat in Winter – Short Term and DIY Solutions

We know now that investing a few thousand dollars on an energy audit and home improvements can end up paying for itself in energy savings over only a few years but what if you just don’t have the money to get started?

  • Let the sun in. During the day keep the blinds and drapes wide open during those few brief hours of daylight. Sunshine, which is basically solar energy, can heat your home up by several degrees. So let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
  • Turn down the thermostat. Especially when you’re not at home or you’re snug as a bug under your blankets at night. By turning the temperature back by 10-15 degrees for 10 hours per day can save you 10% on your energy bill. Programmable thermostats work best – you can set different temperatures for day while you’re working, at night while you’re sleeping and even for weekends when you’re home. For as little as $25 you pick up a programmable thermostat at your local hardware store and get started. Of course you can always manually turn the temperature lower and higher if you don’t have a programmable one.
  • Use your ceiling fans. Most, if not all, ceiling fans have a switch on the base of the fan to reverse their rotation. In the winter, by reversing or resetting your fan, you’ll be pushing the heat near the ceiling down toward the floor.
  • Use caulking or weather stripping around exterior windows and doors. When I was a kid I remember my parents taking a light candle and slowly moving it along the frames of the windows and doors to find drafts. The areas where the candle flickered crazily were the areas that got a bead of caulking or weather stripping applied.
  • Close off unused areas of your house. Close the door and shut off the heat to any room you don’t use daily, such as a spare room or enclosed sun room. Close and cover the ducts/vents and if the room has it’s own temperature control turn it off. If you need the room again you can always turn the heat back on and it will be warm in an hour or two.
  • Wrap your pipes. Pipes that carry water need to be insulated from below-freezing temperatures. If you have a crawl space under your home or a basement that’s not insulated, wrap your pipes with fiberglass insulation or use pre-molded foam rubber sleeves that you can pick up at most home improvement stores.
  • Bundle up! Wear a comfy sweater, some cozy thick socks, slippers, and curl up under an afghan. By bundling up a little more and keeping the temperature set even 5 degrees lower than your “comfort” level when you’re home you can save up to 5% of your heating bill. There’s something very cozy about curling up in a sweater, wrapped in a throw or afghan while sipping cocoa with your loved ones.

These are just a few ways to keep things warm this winter, and save a little money in the process. A trip to your local hardware store or big box home improvement center can help you get started and the staff at those stores will be on top of the newest products to help you keep your home energy efficient and warm. Home improvement and hardware stores often schedule free “how to” seminars so check with your local stores for dates and times.

A List of Resources to Help Keep the Warm In this Winter:

This post is part of the 301st Festival of Frugality hosted by Funny About Money on October 7, 2011.

Frugal Dilemma – Should I Buy a New Bed?

One of the challenges of moving from a house to an apartment is room size. The master bedroom in my house is large enough to accommodate my king size bed and other furniture. The bedroom I will have at the apartment is much smaller and my king size bed will not fit.

My neighbour has offered to buy the king size bed and I’m happy with this but now I have the question of a new bed. Here are my options:

  1. Buy a new queen size bed frame & mattress set that I really love – price will be around $3000
  2. Buy a new queen size bed frame & mattress set that will do for now but not really 100% my taste from Ikea or similar store – price will be around $1500
  3. Use an antique mahogany sleigh bed I’ve had since I was a child (and is currently not in use) and buying a double size mattress set that will fit it – price will be around $1000 (or less) for mattress set

I could talk myself into going with option #1 pretty easily. I’ve found a unique queen size bed that I really love and I could tell myself it’s an investment piece that will last me many years. I could also tell myself that the money my neighbour is paying for the king size bed will help pay for the bed. Then I could tell myself that, since I’m not really buying any new furnishings I really can afford this one little splurge. And finally I could tell myself that part of my new life without my husband I deserve the luxury of this new bed.

With option #2 things are a bit trickier. I don’t really love any of the beds in this price range. While having a queen sized bed would be nice when compared to the double bed in option #3 at the same time it seems a bigger waste of money to buy a less expensive bed that I don’t really love than to buy the more expensive one in option #1. I think option #2 can safely be eliminated now.

Option #3 is the most frugal option in the long run. It’s both frugal with my money and it’s frugal with my available space. The bed itself is an absolutely gorgeous mahogany sleighbed that’s around 200 years old. It’s a piece of furniture that has been in storage for a few years which really is a shame. The craftsmanship and beauty of it cannot be found in today’s modern furniture. However, it’s only a double size not a queen. The move from a king size bed to a double size bed is going to take some getting used to. And while it’s clearly smaller than a queen, the bed frame itself has a headboard nearly 5 ft tall and a foot board about 3 ft tall which creates a lot of visual clutter for me. My personal taste and style runs to contemporary in style and the heavy ornate feel of this antique is not in keeping with the rest of my furnishings.

Some quick info on sizes:

  • A Standard King size – 76 inches wide
  • A Standard Queen size – 60 inches wide
  • A Standard Double (also called Full) size – 54 inches wide

I’m stuck between options 1 and 3 now. I really don’t know what I should do. The frugal angel on my shoulder is telling me to go with option #3 but the devil shopper on my other shoulder is telling me to splurge just this once on option #1.

Update: I’ve decided to not just talk the frugal talk but to walk the frugal walk this time. I’m going with option #3. I’m going to use the antique sleigh bed which only requires me to purchase a full size mattress. The most frugal (and sensible) option.

You thought I’d cave in and go with option #1, didn’t you? Yeah, me too.

Update #2: This post was featured on edition #133 of the Festival of Frugality. Check it out. Lots of great frugal features there.