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Frugal living tip #44. November 6, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here, with another Frugal Living Tip from Poor Richard’s Almanac. This one’s about getting your home ready for winter, and it’s courtesy of the newsletter in our monthly bill from our electric utility company. They suggest removing any cracked caulking around doors and windows and recaulking to keep frigid drafts out. Makes sense, right?

Then they add: “The same is true for worn weatherstripping, and gaps and holes around vents and pipes that lead into your home or attic. Seal large gaps around pipes with expanding foam.” Great advice, but hardly rocket science.

But they go on to say: “While you’re at it, add foam gaskets behind outlet covers and switchplates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets. These are prime spots for letting cold air in.” Foam gaskets. Wazzat?!!!

Hmmm. Guess you really do learn something new every day. Thanks, PPL!

Meanwhile, we’re getting insulated curtains for the home office and tacking up bubble wrap “curtains” over every leaky window, putting draft stoppers at every outdoor door and any inside doors (such as the door to our mudroom and one door to a very drafty closet) that could let in cold air, and adding enough layers to the bed to make a cozy nest even if we turn the thermostat down to 55 at night. We try to open our curtains early enough to let in maximum light and heat and close them early enough to keep out cold. We have fleece-lined slippers to wear indoors and numerous layers to keep us “just right” however cold it gets. We haven’t gotten to the point of wearing nightcaps, but it could happen yet!

You probably recall that in Mediaeval times, people kept warm by hanging tapestries on the walls and piling furs on the floors and beds. It’s still a smart idea (especially now when you won’t be sharing them with fleas, lice, and God knows what else!). Carpets and rugs keep your feet from cold floors, and contrasting rugs on carpets add another layer of insulation while providing a decorative touch. Hanging a decorative textile like a quilt or antique coverlet, Navajo rug, or weaving on a wall not only warms your space visually but also helps conserve heat literally. Insulated curtains keep heat from being lost through window glass. You may not want to pile bear or wolf skins on your bed, but you can put on flannel sheets, down comforters, wool blankets, and duvets until your bed is warm in even the coldest room. Cats tend to be only too happy to pre-warm the bed for you, too. We have an outside cover for our air conditioner (we also cover the inside with bubble wrap, then conceal the whole thing behind half-window shutters) and a foam cover for our one outdoor faucet.

Then there’s my favorite winter warming technique, using the oven as often as possible to warm us inside and out. It’s great to feel the heat radiating from the oven (something I try to avoid all summer) and smell the wonderful aromas of supper cooking at the same time. Yum!!!

But hmmm, we never thought of foam gaskets for our outlets. How do you winterize your house? 

         ‘Til next time,