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Cold Weather Hack: Easy Ways to Dodge the Drafts

Unless you've been blessed to have had a full energy audit with blower door test, thermal imaging and more, there's likely to be air seeping into places in your home you might not have imagined. And as a homeowner for almost two decades, I never stop learning about ways to increase the energy efficiency of my abode. Save money, waste less, tread lighter on the earth? A win-win-win, y'all. So let's get into this some more...

While the common advice is to NEVER close off your heat registers, if you are the happy owner of a ductless heat pump like we are, this advice is completely false.

With a ductless heat pump - now this may seem obvious - you are not using your ducts to heat your home. Therefore, the registers in your floor in each room are nonfunctional - basically, just open holes to the ductwork in your crawlspace (&/or attic) that may or may not have cracks and other air leaks (most do in older homes due to age, poor installation, weather, and more), and may or may not be insulated. And if you reach down and touch them? Even with the registers closed, air can seep in the cracks, and that's where we start.

For under $10 you can get a 3-pack of magnetic vent covers at the hardware or big box store, which for us we were able to cut out two per sheet, then painted them to match the black registers using leftover zero-VOC black paint we had on had from painting our recently decommissioned fireplace.

Problem. Solved.

Sure, we could have not painted it, but to me? It looked like I'd dropped pieces of paper everywhere, and I'd rather not have my already-functionless grills sticking out like sore thumbs. Works like a charm, y'all.

We also did a few other weatherization projects that also cost next to nothing...and are important for all homeowners - and yes, renters as well - to consider in keeping warm this winter...

  • After making the quick, cheap and super effective DIY snake to keep the chill from under the door leading to the laundry room during the bitter cold that kept us stubbornly unwilling to leave the house, the temps rose into the 'balmy' upper 20s and that got my whole weatherization project into high gear. I quickly repurposed the snake to help keep out the draft from underneath the weird barn door leading to the garage (don't ask me whose brilliant idea THAT was) and spent $17 on a "U-Shape Slide-On Under Door Seal". Basically, it's like a door sweep but the 'sweep' is under the door rather than on one side or the other. Works like a CHARM, y'all.

  • Right around that same time, my husband noticed how cold it felt flipping the lightswitch by our front door, and I recalled the foam gaskets behind the switchplates at our last home and sought those out (considering your light switches and outlets have gaping holes next to them when you pull off the plates, it makes sense that the thin plastic plate isn't exactly a great insulator from the cold). For under $3, you can get a six-pack of these "outlet sealers" as they're actually called, and they pop on in seconds.

  • ...but, this is important you really should not do the aforementioned UNLESS you also are willing to drop a whopping $3 more on a pack of outlet plug covers (i.e., child safety plugs), to put in the unused slots of the outlets. After all, those are holes, y'all, and if you insulate behind the switchplates but don't cover up the holes in them? Not a bullseye. So do this, y'all. Not tough at all...and you might know someone who has leftovers to spare and get this quickie fix done for free.

Every little bit adds up when keeping out the cold, y'all. And not everything is as expensive as it might seem. Don't be afraid to ask those questions rather than start with might be amazed at the possibilities of what you can do on your own.

More to come...

"Buy less, choose well & do it yourself!" ~Vivienne Westwood


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