Thursday, November 30, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday (One day late): Saving on heating bills

I hope Shannon will let me visit the Works-For-Me Wednesday blogosphere party one day late this time around, because yesterday I was having internet problems. (It's funny how much you can miss your blog, your standard news sites, your favorite blogs to read, etc., when you can't get to them...)

I hate to heat any more of the house than I have to in the winter, but I live in an old house with small rooms. Several of the interior doors have been removed over the years to make life a little easier. The doors, you see, made it hard to actually have furniture in some of the rooms. Not without banging of doors on furniture, or amazing squeezing-through-openings dancing.

So, I wanted to shut off rooms but I didn't want the standard doors back in. After toying with all sorts of Great Ideas - all of which cost money or required tools, materials and/or skills I didn't have - I decided to go with what I had on hand and see if it did any good at all.

For each door I draped fabric over a tension curtain rod (around here, this size tension rod costs less than three dollars). I fastened the cloth with clothespins (aka clothes pegs, for my non-American readers) then slid the curtain rod to the top of the door opening. I adjusted the length so the fabric filled the doorway top to bottom. I didn't hope for much because what I had on hand was pretty standard, thinnish cotton fabric I'd bought for quilting and it didn't seal against the door. It hung close to the edges, but there is a bit of daylight shows on the sides.

I intended this as an experiment, or at best a temporary measure until I could work up something better - but doggone if it doesn't do the trick. I had assumed I'd need thick fabric, perhaps with added insulation. I'd assumed I'd need to have a tight fit against the door. And while thicker material and/or a good seal would probably do a better job by some standards, this trick does exactly what I was aiming for. It keeps by far and away most of the heat in the dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bath. It lets me adjust how much heat gets into the living room, etc. When I want to use the living room, I just take another clothespin and pin the curtain open and let heat swirl in.

If I wanted to get fancy, I could sew the curtains instead of fastening them with clothespins - but this is fabric that is intended for shirts or quilts next year after the weather warms up. Using clothespins means I can use it this winter without damaging any of it. Adjusting the length by changing how much drapes over the rod means I don't have to cut it to fit. Heh. As it happens, cotton fabric is just the right width, selvage to selvage, to fit in my doors. So I didn't even need to sew the edges. Double heh. I love it when a project turns out to be this easy.

A bonus: since I'm using a tension rod, I didn't have to add hardware to the doorframe. There will be no marks and no muss when I open up the rooms again in spring.

Another bonus: our cats entertain us with games of hide and seek using the curtains. They also battle each other through the curtains, which is also pretty funny. They've only pulled one curtain down so far, but the experience seems to have taught them to adjust their technique. :)

A side note: I didn't have enough fabric on hand for all the doorways, so for the door to the mud room I used a cheap painter's drop cloth that had been sitting in a drawer, doing nothing. I don't think I'd do this if there were children in the house, but this very thin plastic also works surprisingly well for herding heat where it's wanted and away from where it's not needed.

For more ideas from other household managers, visit this week's edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer.


Anonymous said...

Quite ingenious of you! Googled Latin for "finished" and by a somewhat tortuous path arrived here! Interesting....

Kolfinnas Korner said...

We live in an old drafty house (built around 1850's) that has no insulation and do this too only on extieror doors (we only have 2 interior doors....the bathroom and the boys bedroom). I use heavy blankets or sheets folded in half and hang them on nails at the top of the door with colthes pins. Most stay on year around as they also keep the heat out in the summer.