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Winter Home Comforts

Having a variety of winter home comforts in place is all about making small improvements to your living space.  Keeping the heat in and the cold out is always the goal.

Just by installing these simple, straight forward items can have quite an impact such as adding:

  • A draft guard or door sweep for a doorway 
  • Insulating curtains 
  • Heavy liner to your existing curtains.

Single Draft stoppers, draft guards and door sweeps 

One of the best home comforts you can add is a simple door draft guard. As you can see, there are quite a few names to describe these simple but effective items. They are also called "door snakes" as well as they look, well, like a well-fed roly poly snake!

These long, rounded cylindrical-shaped draft guards fit a standard door (36") to reduce or block out cold drafts. The thick padding blocks the gap between the door and the floor very effectively. Made of tough, durable synthetic material, they may be covered by fabric or not. 

These draft guards can easily be removed in the non-winter months and stored in a closet. In winter, I've also tacked one on the bottom of a door which has worked quite well (I was tired of tripping over it!). However, if it's a light-coloured door the small puncture holes may show up so this won't suit everyone - although you'll have to be close to the ground to see it of course. Our door is dark-coloured and full of character already so this just added to its patina!

Double draft stoppers and door guards

Another kind of draft guard is a double sort joined by a thin layer of material so you'll have a wind block on both sides of the door. This kind is very effective giving you double the cold air blocking.

This type can be used for both doors and window sills. Typical size for a door could be 30" to 36" while a window draft stopper is usually around 30". A draft guard can be cut to fit a standard door width as well but do check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure.

Besides buying them ready-made, you can quite easily make them yourself. All you need is spare material (and sewing machine) to create the guard's cover to the length you want and then stuff it full of other fabric. It's a great way to recycle those old clothes, socks, tights and fabric scraps that are taking up room in your closet. Just make sure all the inside "stuffing" is tight and fills out the cover completely so it sits properly on the floor against the door.

Insulating curtains and curtain liners

As home comforts go, having insulated curtains is another very good  thing to do, as it will keep the heat in in winter and the heat out in summer. The best type of liner is a thick acrylic suede-type liner. It will help reduce some of the heating cost of your home as well as lessen any outside noise and light coming inside. 

The tab-top type or grommet-style insulated curtains work well and are a common type of window treatment that's practical and attractive. There's a good colour range from neutrals to rich winter colours available too during the pre-season lead-up. Because they are made of a durable polyester/cotton blend, they can be washed. Just check the manufacturer's instruction to be doubly sure though.

Perhaps you don't want to go to the additional expense of getting heavy curtains for your windows. Instead, you could line your existing windows with other fabric. I've used plain cotton solid colour bedsheets to good effect. Although cotton is not generally a good insulating material, it does add another layer between you and the cold air.

Now, I've not tried using flannel bedsheets as curtain liners but it's another possibility you might want to consider - provided you find something to suit your needs. This type of sheet would be slightly denser because of the thicker weave of the cotton thereby reducing any air leak just that bit more.

You can buy double curtain tracks from any home improvement store to add your new curtain liners to your existing curtains.

Window insulation kits

Replacing windows is an expensive job so as an interim or even a long term measure, you could insulate windows with a plastic window insulation kit. As home comforts go, this is another fairly inexpensive but effective means to reduce any air leaks. Aesthetically speaking, these temporary plastic window coverings may not look the best but they do work well.

There are two basic kinds; one that can be reused or a one-time only use.

  • The removable kit is made up of a plastic sheet with self-stick UV-resistant PVC strips and channels to keep the plastic in place around the window frame or casing. I've not used the removable kind so if it works then that's great. I would think you would have to be careful when storing it away until the next winter. However, given how it is to be used, it may end up just being a one-time use after all.
  • The other kind just uses the plastic film only. You have to heat the plastic up with a hair dryer so it sticks to the double-sided tape you put around the window frame. This is a one-time only use so you would have to do this again for the following winter. Over time, the cost could mount up but not as much as buying a new replacement window.

The plastic film or sheet can be cut to size to fit the window. Its size is around 54" wide by 85" long so it's quite generous and will fit most windows. The plastic thickness is around 0.08-mil so it provides a solid surface to reduce drafts, air leaks and cold spots around the window casing.

Backer rods

There is another kind of window insulation which is good for filling small gaps between sills, windows casings and window sashes for older wood windows.  It's called "backer rod" although it may have a different manufacturer's brand name when you go searching for it at the hardware store.  Like the double-sided door guards I mentioned above, it's made of the same tough synthetic material and comes in long, rounded lengths of grey (usually) of different widths. You can place it anywhere you have a gap that needs filling. 

I've used different widths between the window sash and the window sill as well as the window casing to good effect. However, you do have to be careful because you can push the window sash out of kilter with the window frame. This may let more air leaks in than you are are trying to keep out!

You can buy different widths from 1/4" up to 1 inch. I've even used it to fill a gap between wainscoting in our entrance hallway as a temporary measure. These long insulating rounded strips can easily be removed and stored and then reused again next winter. They are easy to find in any hardware store.

That takes care of the soft winter home comforts that you can add quite easily at a reasonable cost. To make you really feel cozy and warm inside at night there is winter bedding to add to the list of great home comforts. Now, there are other house improvements for you to consider that can also have a big impact on your heating bills. 

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