DIY For Cheap Bastards: We’re Not Paying To Heat The Outdoors
Who else heard this quote from their parents all the time while growing up? Complaining about the cost of heat when you’re a new homeowner is such a cliché but, it’s ubiquitous for a reason. The bills are expensive and when it comes to your first house, utility costs were something you likely glossed over when you picked the cute house with rickety windows. Oh, we’ll get to the windows eventually, let’s just live in it for a few months first…
Well, now it’s winter and despite climate change, it’s damn cold outside. Conor and I already went through the decidedly non-DIY step of converting our house from oil to gas heat. Our furnace was on its last legs anyway so it was something we had budgeted for from the beginning. Having a dad who’s a plumber also helps but, it still doesn’t make it free.
Having temporarily exhausted our large-scale home improvement fund, I was looking to stop some of the drafts from our original wooden frame windows while spending as little money as possible. While spending about $30 bucks on that plastic stuff you shrink-wrap with a hairdryer was an option, it just didn’t appeal to me. It would be super ugly, make me feel like I was living in a bubble, and seemed really wasteful to buy plastic and then throw it in a landfill in a few months.
Enter a 25lb bag of rice from BJ’s. For less than 10 bucks, I came up with a plan to make my house more energy-efficient and use up a bunch of old fabric I’d been saving. That’s right, I made draft stoppers (aka catchers and/or snakes) and felt like a total grandma doing it. My wallet isn’t complaining though.
The premise is really simple. Measure the width of your window and add 4-6 inches to account for seams and extra length to fit into gaps. Measure the width you want and add a couple of inches to account for seams. Cut your fabric to size, fold it in half (right sides together), and sew one short end and the long side. Turn it inside out (a dowel was really helpful for this step) and fill with rice, beans, or some other equally frugal bulk item that won’t rot.
I fashioned a funnel out of an old envelope (fittingly, it was the one the bill from the HVAC guy came in) and filled the fabric tube using it and a glass jar. You want to under fill the tube by a couple of inches so you can squish the tube around window locks and have a bit of give at the corners. Once full, I folded the ends in and stitched them closed.
I made about six of them in the time it took to watch and episode and a half of Real Housewives. What? Don’t you time your weekend projects by reality TV marathons? It would have gone even faster if I had done each step all at once (cut them all, stitched them all, filled them all, etc.) but I was anxious that it wouldn’t work so I kept trying them out in the windows individually.
It may be too early to tell but I swear I can feel the difference already. Take that Old Man Winter.