Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winter is Coming

I know technically winter is already here, but New England seems to be struggling to understand that.  Today is supposed to be 55 degrees and rainy, and then it's supposed to dip back down into the 40s.  I also got an email from National Grid telling me that they're raising their rates 20%, and it's supposed to be a particularly cold season this year.  So, I'm preparing.

Right now, the fiance is finishing his PhD and has no income, so I'm keeping us fed and warm all on my own.  My student loan payments have also increased, for reasons I don't understand, and my car has been acting funny lately.  Long story short, I don't have a lot of money to toss around on frivolous things like heat, so I'm going to do a bit of experimenting to see how I can pay little but still stay reasonable comfortable.

Strategy one: Bubble Wrap
Apparently you can use bubble wrap to insulate your windows.  This is something I remember reading about a while ago, but have never tested.  It's a bit ghetto, but so am I!  According to this article, bubble wrap cuts the energy loss from windows in half, which certainly means it's worth trying.  I also like the fact that it still lets in light.  So far, I only had enough bubble wrap on hand to do three windows, but I put a request on freecycle to see if anyone has more they would give me.  I might just buy some if I can't get it for free, but I certainly wanted to ask first. Maybe it's just a placebo effect, but I do feel like there's less of a draft coming from the window behind the couch.  Of course, it's also warm today, so it could also be that...

Strategy Two: Draft Dodgers
The bubble wrap will stop the window panes from leaking in the cold, but there are also those cracks where the window closes that can let in drafts when it's windy--which it frequently is.  I live on the third floor near the water, so I certainly get some cold breezes, and hopefully, employing draft dodgers will stop some of that.  In case this is confusing, I'm not talking about people who avoided serving in World War II, I'm talking about this kind of draft dodger:
You could also call it a draft stopper, but that's a lot less hilarious.  Basically, this is just a tube of fabric filled with some kind of malleable stuffing like buckwheat, rice, beans, etc.  You want it to mold to the surface it's on, so it fills in the cracks where the drafts come through.  I actually bought one of these at Bed Bath and Beyond years ago for like $20, so my strategy this time is to make my own.  I have some torn pants and a big bag of rice--it's on!

Strategy Three: Window Plastic
Having grown up in Minnesota/North Dakota, I am intimately familiar with window plastic.  This is my third option, because I don't really want to go this route unless the bubble wrap and draft dodger strategies really fail.  Window plastic works really well, but it's also time-consuming to put up, the cat hates it and always tries to tear it down (and usually succeeds), it's pretty ugly, and it's single use.  Once I have a stash of draft dodgers and perfectly sized bubble wrap, I can re-use those every year--not so much with window plastic.

Strategy Four: Think Warm
Have the time, I feel like coldness is just a state of mind.  I always feel warmer when I have this going on the background: