Fix-It: Warm winters

With winter quickly approaching, it is now time to consider alternative and money-saving options when dealing with keeping your home warm.

heater 88 (photo credit: )
heater 88
(photo credit: )
With winter quickly approaching, it is now time to consider alternative and money-saving options when dealing with keeping your home warm. Many homes lose over 70 percent of their heat due to inadequate insulation. To put this in shekel terms, imagine that you had spent NIS 5,000 for last year's heating. If your home was better insulated, the price for heating could be as much as NIS 3,500 less. Imagine what you could do with NIS 35,000 over a 10-year period... Many insulation projects, such as changing windows and adding insulation to the structure of the building (inside or outside), can be costly and may prohibit one from putting out that amount of money, even with future savings in mind. Simple and inexpensive solutions can be done for just a few hundred NIS that will pay for themselves within a month or two. With most of the heat being lost from windows and doors, it is crucial to replace any cracked or broken glass panes. Once that is done, we can do a little project to test for drafts and eliminate them. You will need a few damp but clean rags, four rolls (or more) of foam window/door insulation, a wax candle, matches, four tubes (maybe more for larger homes) of exterior grade caulk and a caulking gun. Go to the outside of your home and examine the seal between the glass and frame of your windows and the seal between the frame and building structure. There probably are cracks through the old caulk and this is where quite a bit of heat escapes. Remove any loose debris from the area and wipe clean with your rag. Add a thin bead of caulk to areas between the glass and window that are lacking sealant and smooth gently with a wet but clean finger. If it doesn't look right, just clean it off with the rag and try again; the wet caulk will dissolve in water. Do the same with the frame around the window. Now that you have finished sealing the insulating caulk for all the windows, it's time to check the frame of all your doors. Just be careful not to seal the door shut! Next, go to the inside of your home and test for drafts. Keeping drapes and other flammable items away, light a candle about three centimeters away from the window. Slowly rotate the candle around the perimeter of the window and observe if the flame flickers. If it doesn't, great! If it does, examine the glass to frame and see if it's tight. If it is not, clean the area with a damp rag and apply caulk as was done outside. Be much more careful with having smooth lines. Keep in mind that after the caulk has dried for a few hours, it can be cut with a razor blade to make straight lines. Next, on the part of the window that is normally open but when closed touches the frame, clean with the rag and when dry apply a strip of insulating foam. This will then be sandwiched between the window and frame when it is in the closed position. Close the window and try the candle test again and it shouldn't flicker at all. Now, repeat this procedure for all the windows and then doors of your home. On the door, it's best to apply the insulation on the door frame lip. If there are any older single pane windows that are not opened for the entire stretch of winter months, they can be further sealed with shrinkable plastic. This is applied to the inside of the entire window, then the plastic is shrunk using a hair dryer. The heat shrink plastic sealant is available at all Do-It-Yourself stores or Home Centers. A great insulating money saver is installing thermal drapes between your regular drapes and the window. This fabric is usually white on the inside and grey or silver on the window-facing side. It can save a tremendous amount of energy. This can be purchased at any store that sells drapes or drapery fabric. On the bottom of the door, it is also advisable to install a strip of door insulation. This can just be glued to the lower part of the door and protects from drafts coming in below the door. These small tips will help keep you warmer and also allow you to save on your heating costs. You mentioned in your last article that lead paint was dangerous. If so, why was it being used? - Rena K., via e-mail Lead was a great ingredient for paint. It was durable and also made the paint dry very quickly. In fact, lead paint is still used today for road paint. Lead-based paint is best suited for the lines separating lanes and markings for parking spaces, as they need durability and quick drying. Lead poisoning most often occurs when children ingest paint chips and paint dust (usually not a problem on roads). When the medical issues associated with lead paint in homes surfaced in the late 1970s, it caused the banning of lead paint for home use. Unfortunately, older homes are still at risk, and children are routinely screened for lead poisoning via blood tests. Readers tips, questions and comments are always welcome! The authors can be reached at (02) 585-9559 and at