The time has come.

The days of brown grass and no rain are now a hazy memory. Summer has definitely bade us farewell and it’s time to batten down the hatches, keep the warmth inside, and layer up.

There are a few basic things I like to do to block the cold air out and keep the heating bills down.

Caulking some of the gaps around old windows helps. If that’s something you haven’t done before, it’s pretty simple and affordable – you’ll need to visit a hardware store, get a caulking gun and a tube of caulk e.g. Alex Plus (acrylic latex with silicone) for interior or exterior depending on your angle of approach, and protective gloves. (Don’t cut too big of a hole off the tip as you’ll get too much goop if you do!) You’ll need to caulk before the temperatures drop in order for it to dry properly, and keep a wet cloth handy for wiping off excess before it dries. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Another oh so basic thing I do is put out small rolled up carpets to block areas where cold air sneaks in, like at the door to the garage, the back door, and the patio doors. You can improvise with a variety of items – my box of unused material from sewing projects over the years has been a great resource to fall back on and I’ve sewn up a couple of air blockers over the years stuffed with old sweaters and sweatshirts. If you want something that looks professional, you can check out $10 door draft blockers from e.g. Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Our old fashioned fireplaces are no longer in use, so the flues are of course closed, but for the super chilly upstairs fireplace, we’ve filled it with insulation and covered it with a pretty framed picture that’s taped up against the bricks (instead of spending $100 for a less attractive fireplace draft guard).

If you want more flexibility – e.g. to sometimes use the fireplace, you can check out chimney balloons that can block the cold drafts and heat loss but that are easy to remove and go for about $50.

For the master bedroom, I worked on changing the curtains this summer, but as the cool air kicked in, I realized their thickness was lacking. So I brought back the old, thicker (cleaned of their dust) curtains, and placed the new ones on top and hung them all together, with a merging of aesthetics and practicality. No sewing was necessary as they all have rings for the rods, and even though the ring placement is spaced out differently, they hang together fine and dandy and keep the bedroom cozy, while looking good.

Layering up in a variety of ways like this and beyond can help dramatically reduce your heating costs.

Between gas and electricity use in our home, we’re spending several hundred dollars less than the previous homeowners, and being heat saving savvy is responsible for most of those savings.

Okay, so we won’t be roasting any marshmallows, sitting in front of an open fire, but we can sit all bundled up on the sofa, keeping more of our heat inside the house, and just imagine what to do with our savings. Hot stuff.

By the way, if you want to check out my new eBook The Art of Stretching Your Dollar Part One: You and Your Money, it’s at http://amzn.to/1gHEhJb in Canada, or http://amzn.to/1LslzSI in the States, in pre-release mode with September the 28th as the “real” release day!

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