by Dena Wood
I am blessed to live in a lovely, large home built in the late 1800s. Though there are many benefits to living in such a home, there are more than a few pitfalls as well. One such pitfall is the cost of heating a home that is poorly insulated and drafty. We have slowly been replacing windows and adding insulation over the years, but our home’s heat efficiency is a far cry from that of newer models. Still, there are a few tricks we use to cut costs.
When the weather starts to cool, I know it’s time to drag out the door curtains. Yes, you read that right— door curtains. We do the majority of our “living” in the back of our house in a large open area that runs the length of the home, functioning as our kitchen/family room. We do most of our schooling at the kitchen table, so we spend 80 percent of our time in this section of the house. Therefore, I’m able to curtain off the entire front of the house, which consists of the formal living and dining room, office, and entry. Those rooms are seldom used, and we can keep the thermostat to slightly cooler than what would be acceptable if we were spending any time lounging there. By curtaining off the area we live in, we’re able to keep it at a more pleasant temperature without breaking the bank. When we have company or are entertaining, we simply open the curtains and let them hang at the side of the entryway to the room. If I choose, I can also easily remove them entirely by taking down the dowel they hang from.
A trick I learned from a friend two winters ago has made a huge difference in both our comfort and our heating bill. We’ve replaced many of our windows, but we still have about half to go. Those old windows do nothing to keep out the cold. My friend told me that she had purchased foam board insulation, cut the pieces to fit her windows, and sewed fabric sleeves for each. She pops the board in the windows at night and takes them out and stores them behind the sofa in the daytime, when she can let the sun in. I purchased a couple of large foam boards for under $15 each and was able to fill several of my windows. The style I found has a reflective material on one side, which directs the heat back into the house. I leave my boards in the majority of the time. I just leave the curtains closed so you can’t tell they’re there when you’re in the house. It’s absolutely amazing the difference they make. Our boards get stored away each spring, and we pull them out again in the winter. If you give this a try, just be sure to mark them so you know which window they fit.
Dena Wood is a homemaker and homeschooling mom of five who lives in beautiful Washington State. She is a co-owner of Trigger Memory Systems and enjoys reading, writing, and traveling.