Stop Cold Air From Getting In Your House


Stopping cold air infiltration

It is very important that you have an accurate circuit board index mounted on the interior of the panel box, which identifies what is being controlled by your circuit breakers and or fuses.

I am traveling to an out of state jobsite, and have been living away from home for substantial periods of time.

My home is in a cold climate and my job is in a warm climate, therefore I do not have to worry about staying warm, but my wife, who I left at home, does!

This situation forces my wife to solve a number of issues around the home to try and stay warm, that I would take care of, if I were there.

She has a few very unique and clever solutions to stopping cold air infiltration, and has also tried to incorporate some techniques to minimize energy use that we have discussed in the past.

The plastic bag technique. 

I had noticed on my last visit home, that there were clear plastic bags covering a number of the exterior wall, switch plate covers.  When I asked her what these were for, she told me to hold my hand over the outlet with the plastic bag, no cold air, she then removed the plastic bag and I definitely felt a cold draft.

OK / point well taken, if you have wall plugs or switches, located on an exterior wall, you will definitely benefit by covering them with a plastic bag.  Especially on the prevailing wind side of the home.  I would strongly suggest that you use painters tape to seal the perimeter and not duct tape or another type of stronger adhesive tape. 

You should test the tape prior to using it on the wall to determine if its removal can be accomplished without destroying the wall finish.

Of course, the more permanent step would be the removal of this plastic temporary cover as well as the cover plate.  Once the outlet is exposed the foaming of the perimeter of the electrical box with expansive foam will form a more permanent and less obtrusive seal.  To add to this seal, you can also purchase a full gasket that is specifically sized to install between the cover plate and the box.  Once these steps are taken, you should have the outlet sealed as best as possible.

The interior door sweep via blanket. 

My wife will take old blankets and towels, and place them at the base of exterior doors.  This will eliminate the rush of cold air that will blow under the door, especially when the wind blows.  We all have a number of old blankets, towels, sheets, etc. that can be folded up and simply placed against the interior of the exterior doors.  This will stop a lot of the cold air infiltration under these openings.

The ” redneck ” plastic window covering. 

My wife has now decided that light painters poly can be draped and easily taped over all windows around the home.  This will produce the best result if taped around the entire perimeter to allow a full seal of the window opening.  You will be amazed at the air inflow that is stopped, because you will actually see the inflation of the plastic, from the air filling the back of the covering. There are also manufactured kits available, that use a hair dryer to warm the plastic up and produce a more secure and tight seal.

The location heating system. 

My wife has decided that if she sits in her favorite recliner, and directs a reflecting heat element directly towards this recliner, she can easily remain warm and toasty without raising the heat within the entire home.  This is an obvious solution to a heating issue, however, she has perfected the technique and can move from the warm recliner, directly into bed, without loosing her coziness. Of course the cat, Stray, helps her retain this heat!

Layering of countless layers of clothing. 

My wife will have a T shirt on, a flannel shirt, a sweatshirt as well as another zippered sweatshirt over the top.  This  is in addition to her sweatpants, that are over a pair of long nylon underwear.  Yes, this does work, at least for her goal of staying warm. The use of layering was a basic technique that was taught to us when I worked on the Alaskan Pipeline back when I was a youth.  

Covering the fireplace opening. 

An open fireplace, is basically a chimney for the warm air from the home to escape.  Yes there is normally a damper that can be closed, however, this damper is a metal closure piece that is not air tight.  It is a good idea to hang a heavy blanket over the opening, or even place a piece of furniture on the hearth in front of the opening draped with blankets or old towels.  Any additional sealing of this entry into the fireplace flue, will reduce the amount of warm air escaping up the chimney.

Shutting all doors to perimeter rooms. 

Depending on the zoning of your heating system, the shutting of any perimeter doors will help keep the occupied portion of the home warmer, with less energy.  If you can try to use the interior portion of the home, and not minimize movement back and forth to the perimeter, exterior rooms, where most of the cold air infiltration is occurring, you will reduce the amount of heat required to stay comfortable within the interior of the home.

Never leave the garage doors open, especially if the garage is below the livable areas of the home.  Although this is obvious, an open garage door is allowing the cold air to infiltrate to the floors of the livable spaces.  Never allow this to occur.  Attempt to minimize the opening of garage doors, especially in extremely cold weather by either leaving the cars in the garage or outside.  Preferably in the garage to prevent other cold weather issues.

Door weather stripping. 

If you have a garage space that is located under the home, and there is a door access into the basement of the home, make sure that this door is properly weather stripped.  We all have a tendency to consider the exterior doors within the home, when it comes to increased weather stripping, however the door leading from the garage is often not considered. In most common garages, there is no heat, therefore this space will become cold.  Any door, window or wall that is adjacent to this space should be sealed, to prevent migration of the cold air into the warmer home.

Thermostat consistency when you are occupying the home is important. 

It is fine to adjust for occupancy, meaning, if you are away, you can drop the temperature, but attempt to keep the temperature consistent when you are occupying the home.  If the furnace is constantly turning on and off because you are constantly adjusting the temperature, you are not maximizing the efficiency of the system.

Oven Usage

Open the doors upon completion of the cooking cycle.  Use the warm air within the home that has accumulated in the oven space.  The same is valid for the dish washer.  If the drying cycle is complete, open the door and allow any residual heat to escape into the home.

Moisten the interior air. 

Use a humidifier within the interior occupied space within the home to keep the humidity high.  This will cause the overall comfort of the home to maximize at a lower temperature.

These are just a few methods and techniques to minimize the energy use within your home, keep the cold air out,  and increase your comfort.

Of course, you can always just move to a warmer climate!