The weather outside might be frightful, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to binge watch every single caulk strip series until the weather gets better (although an occasional lazy afternoon never hurt anyone). Instead, take advantage of those cold winter weekends and snow days to take on some indoor projects you might have been putting off.
Here are five such projects, each of which can save you a little bit (or a lot) of money.
Air seal your home. Air sealing your home simply means reducing the amount of air that leaks into and out of your home through small openings such as the spaces under doors and the edges of windows. This leaking air can be costly when it comes to winter heating bills and summer cooling bills because the climate-controlled air escapes your home and forces your furnace or air conditioning to run more.
Most of the steps of air sealing your home are simple. Finding leaks is as easy as looking for drafts or the flow of cold air. Sealing leaks is as easy as attaching a weather guard to the bottom of a door or caulking the edge of a window. Not only are they tasks anyone can do, they also have a positive impact on your energy bill during the winter and summer months.
All it takes is a bit of caulk, a weather strip or two caulk strip, some basic tools and an afternoon. Here’s a great guide to air sealing from the Department of Energy to get you started.
Add some insulation to the attic. One common way that heat escapes your home in the winter is through the attic. Heat rises, and if there’s nothing blocking it, it will seep right through your roof and into the outdoors, which can impact your winter energy bills. This can also create a problem if it causes ice or snow to melt on your roof, run down and then freeze again on the edges of the roof or sides of your home, which can cause extensive roof damage and other problems.
The solution is to add more insulation to your attic. Doing this not only keeps warm air in, which reduces heating bills, but also keeps it from escaping up through your roof, which minimizes roof damage due to winter weather.
Here’s a guide from Madison Gas and Electric Company on how to add insulation to your attic. It’s a surprisingly easy process, and it will save you a lot of money over the long run.
Make meals in advance. Filling up your freezer with meals that are ready to pop into the slow cooker, oven or microwave at a moment’s notice is a great way to make life more convenient at busier times as well as save a lot of money on food (since you’ll cook at home instead of eating out, and you’ll be able to buy ingredients in bulk).
Start your garden. As January becomes February, winter begins to transition past its midpoint and inch onward toward spring. That means it’s the perfect time to start your garden before the weather improves.
You can start all kinds of vegetables and flowers in the house, simply by using a grow light and some plastic cups and soil. The seeds will grow into small plants and then, when the weather is right, you can transfer the ball of soil and plant straight from the cups into the ground in the early spring.
Often, this can help people in northern climates get two full growing seasons out of their garden during the year, as you can start a second batch of vegetables during April or May in cups while the early seedlings are in the garden and producing vegetables. Then rotate in the new vegetables in early June that will produce at the end of summer and early fall.
Organize your photographs and prepare gifts. Most of us have hordes of digital photos and older prints. There are many useful projects you can do with this collection of memories.
For starters, you can digitize your old prints, scanning and cropping and color-correcting them. I usually store them in folders by the year when they were taken and use Picasa to tag them with the people in the picture. This allows me to look up pictures of people easily.
Another tactic is to take your print photographs or print copies of your digital photos, and make stationery cards, either for your own use or to give as gifts.
A cold winter weekend offers an abundance of opportunities for enjoyable projects that can save money. Use these weekends wisely, for soon spring will arrive and call us all back outside on many warm adventures!