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Time to button up your home

Ive talked lately about putting your garden to bed but now its time to talk about buttoning up your house. One thing anyone can do to make themselves more comfortable and save on energy costs this winter is to eliminate some of the drafts in your home. Reducing drafts in your house will have a significant impact on your heating bill and make you more comfortable in the process. And you dont need to have the skills of a carpenter or engineer to make a difference. Finding drafts
Its easiest to find drafts on a cold, windy day. Youll be able to feel the big drafts by running your hands along the window and door frames. For smaller drafts try moving a burning stick of incense around your house and watch the smoke. It will clearly show you air currents you may have never noticed on your own. These little drafts may seem insignificant individually but when you add them all up they bring in a lot of cold air that makes your heating system work harder. Blocking drafts
Latex caulk from a tube does a good job of sealing up gaps along moldings and trim but remember that its permanent. There is a putty type of rope caulk that comes in a coil thats easy to unroll. This rope caulk is temporary and is easily removed at the end of winter so its ideal for closing the gaps along the sections of your windows that move when opened. This rope caulk is also nice because you can easily wad it into thicker chunks to fill larger gaps and then pull it into thinner strips for smaller gaps. Since its not permanent you can easily readjust its location or add more if necessary. We put strips of soft foam weather-sealing at the bottom and top of each double-hung window so when they are locked shut the foam is compressed and fills up the gaps. Then we add the rope caulk around the edges of the window sashes and touch up the outer edges of the trim with latex caulk. A sheet of plastic stretched over the whole window frame would add another barrier to any drafts. Its surprising how much air sneaks in through the electrical outlets and switch plates on the exterior walls of your house. They sell inexpensive foam gaskets that you can put behind every outlet and wall switch cover. Adding those plastic child-proof plugs into each outlet cuts down on even more drafts. Door sweeps and weather stripping can significantly cut down on drafts there. It may take a little fiddling to get a good fit that can tolerate repeated opening and closing of the door but it will be worth the effort. For lots more information and ideas on energy saving tips and programs call 1-877-NY SMART or visit their user-friendly Web site at http://www.getenergysmart.org/

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