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 Kids – Host a Used Skate Exchange

Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, Canada I learned to skate almost as early as I learned to walk. Skating was a daily activity on local ponds, lakes and the arena in town.

Each year the parents at our school would organize a “used skate exchange” day. Everyone brought in last year’s skates, which were now too small, and found skates just the right size.

Volunteers coordinated tables by size so it was easy to find where to drop off your old skates and find your “new” skates.

At the same time there would usually be a bake sale, hot chocolate or cider to buy and at times even a craft sale.

Not only was it a great way to get new skates without having to buy new it was a great way to raise funds for school projects.

These days we’re often too quick to throw out the old and buy new. This year why not organize a skate exchange instead? This could work great for schools, community centers, churches, etc.

What are you waiting for?