But alas, winter wandered back into our lives, so we'll stick with some ways to combat the cold and save cold hard cash at the same time.
It's a breeze
In order to keep precious heat where it belongs, you'll first need to locate air leaks:
— Hold a lighted candle near doors and windows. Smoke moving horizontally indicates a leak.
— If you suspect a large leak, go outdoors and shine a flashlight at the window or door jamb while someone inside the house pinpoints where the light is streaming in.
— Shut a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can slip the the paper out without tearing it, you're losing heat.
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests this pressurization test to locate money-draining areas:
— Close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
— Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as stove vents and bathroom fans.
— Light a candle or incense stick, and pass it around the edges of common leak areas. If smoke is drawn into or out of a room, you have an air leak.
Seal the deal
Once you locate leaks, try these remedies to seal them:
— Install door sweeps to your exterior doors.
— Install rubber outlet gaskets in switches and plugs on outer walls.
— Add rope caulk to window and door frames, and put weather-stripping on movable parts.
— Your fireplace may heat you up, but it will also pull heat up, especially since you have to leave the damper open after a fire. Using it sparingly may actually lower your heating bills. But the ambiance may be so worth the money.
Get a grip on the slips
For a great natural sidewalk and step de-icer that won't irritate your pet's paws or corrode your concrete like salt does, try this easy recipe: Mix 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol and a half-gallon of hot water. Pour over walkways. The ice will melt and won't refreeze. Bravo!
If you do use salt for de-icing, put a few charcoal briquettes in the bag. The charcoal absorbs moisture and keeps the salt from clumping.
While the charcoal is out, why not fire up the grill and throw a winter barbecue party? There are worse ways to celebrate Groundhog Day.
Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.