Since none of us really care for Jack Frost, nor Martin Short, in our house, let me suggest the following tips for keeping the hearth’s warmth inside and the cold out:
Windows: if they’re leaking air, get some think window plastic and tape them up. Do buy the proper thickness of plastic and appropriate tape. If one were to use packaging tape, they’ll be retaping the windows all winter. Thin plastic doesn’t create a thick enough barrier, so spring for the window plastic. It can be used for several seasons if one is neat about it. If the plastic is hazy, use a hair dryer to smooth and shrink the plastic (for seal and clarity). Don’t get too close – just about 6 – 9″ away. A person could also spring for the more expensive option: thermal windows. Join me in throwing your arm out of socket to close them when they frequently get off track. Once they’re aligned and closed, don’t open them. Don’t opt for tilt in windows. The clips do break and cause the window to fall on your husband while eating dinner. I’d go with the plastic.
Doors: install some storm doors if the house doesn’t already have them. Think early about storm doors and windows just in case one might have to be custom made. This will not only protect from the heat and cold, but the hail and rain that can damage entry doors. A rolled up towel or cute door cozy (found in crafty little towns), can eliminate much, if not all, of the draft if a door is not sealing properly. Also look into the rubber threshold buffer to help the door seal tightly.
Furnace: to be most efficient, change your air filters. Also, do consider getting your air ducts cleaned. If you are a luck one to have a wood furnace, fireplace or woodstove, do get it cleaned along with the flu and chimney pipe. One bird nest can create one heck of a house fire with a little spark. It’s only $150 – much cheaper and safer than unexpected flames. Do also remember to change fire alarm batteries as incidents do happen. Consider getting carbon monoxide detectors as well – many are now combination fire/carbon monoxide units – if you have a gas furnace. This will easily alert you to a leak and get your family outdoors before succumbing to fumes. Also, proper tools for working with wood burning heat sources is essential. Minimize cuts, burns and have an effienct way to put out an out of control fire. Sand next to the unit or fireplace in a container (urn or other) can be decorative and resourceful. Keep a fire extinguisher on each level of the home as well – and, not to be lame, but don’t be a hero. Leave it to the fire fighters – get you and your family out if the fire is overwhelming – remember, a house can go up in less than 60 seconds.
Science: remember, heat rises. Consider how much you really need those air vents open upstairs during the winter. My second level is dreadfully hot if they’re left open and I save on heating if they’re closed.
Insulation: is your attic insulated? Can it be easily? Heat is primarily lost through the roof. Help dwarf the heat loss with either spray or roll insulation. For attic that are hard to navigate, consider the spray and hire professionals. The spray insulation does not come off of clothes or skin easily. Quote me on that.