Autumn is just around the corner, and with the classic post Labor Day temperature dip, now is a great time to roll up our shirt-sleeves and get to work on some great projects around the house. Last week, we began a discussion about fall-related home improvement projects that are both green and accessible for the DIYer in you. In Part 2, we will continue that discussion with a few ideas geared toward the inevitable spiral downward from the high heat of summer.
While “warm,” “dry,” and “toasty” all roll pleasantly off the tongue to describe those cold autumn and winter evenings, in my opinion, “cozy” is the adjective that perfectly describes how I like to feel in the fall and winter seasons. It’s the ideal word for the atmosphere I want to achieve in my home as the leaves begin to blow across my yard and winter winds howl at my door. Granted, that visual is more reminiscent of my childhood in Pennsylvania than my current home in Texas, but bear with me as I set the mood.
How can we stay cozy during the colder months without cranking up the thermostat? Fortunately, I have a few green, energy-saving ideas that can help keep your home and family warm, while still scratching that DIY home improvement itch you’re feeling right now as you read this post.
- Check Your Insulation. Like other relics of years gone by wasting away in your attic, your insulation can easily fall into the realm of “out of sight, out of mind.” Over time, insulation can lose its efficacy because of excess moisture, settling, and general degradation. Inspect your insulation every autumn, and if necessary, supplement or replace it. For information on green insulation options, check out an earlier post I wrote in December 2013: Strategic Investments in Green Home Improvements: Insulation
- Install storm doors. If you haven’t already done so, install a storm door on all of your exterior doors. While weather stripping will help to keep the draft out, many exterior doors have decorative windows that can rapidly allow heat to escape, and even solid doors can still lose heat due to conduction. A storm door not only keeps cold wind at bay, but will also create an insulating air pocket between your door and the outside world. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to leave your front door open to the world during those glorious spring and summer months.
- Seal the Deal. There are dozens of places around your home where warm air is escaping from your home during the colder months. No DIY cold weather preparations would be complete without a trip to hardware store for some caulk and weather stripping. Windows and doors are the obvious offenders, but what about your fireplace and outlets? Make sure chimney flues and barriers are well sealed, and install foam gaskets behind outlets and switches. As cold weather sets in, it’s time to test your work, so use a stick of incense to identify any remaining air leaks in trouble areas around the home.
- Sew Some Curtains. A crafty DIY project for those of you who are inclined, curtains are amazing at stopping the transmission of heat through your windows. But, let’s face it: a good set of curtains isn’t cheap. To achieve that optimal blend of DIY, thrift, and crafting, head to your nearest fabric store to locate a great pattern, pull out your sewing machine (or for the Navy folks like me, your tin full of needles and thread), and go to town. The best part of doing this yourself is that with the money you save, you can make a lighter set for warmer months as well!
- Get a Furnace Tuneup. This one isn’t necessarily for the DIY crowd, but the overall theme of this discussion is staying warm through energy efficiency. If your furnace hasn’t been tuned up in a few seasons, it’s not running at peak efficiency, and that means you’re wasting energy and running up your utility bill. This is definitely something you need to hire a professional to accomplish.
Staying warm, comfy, and cozy this winter doesn’t have to mean losing your “green” card. Grab a few tools, find those trouble spots, and get busy. By doing a little work as autumn rolls in, you can stay toasty while keeping your energy bill low and your conscience clear. Do you have any thoughts to add to the list? If so, let us know in the comments. Now, go grab some hot cider and get to work!