Cheap Ways to Do a ‘Lite’ Home Remodel

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In today’s economy, money is a little tight all around. And while many of us don’t have the funds for a major home improvement project, new research from Moen Canada indicates that many homeowners are taking up the task themselves. This DIY home improvement trend, dubbed “Remodel Lite,” involves refreshing rooms by taking up small projects one at a time.

For a quick "lite" home remodel, check the nooks and crannies around your home for drafts. Patching these up will amount to major savings on your energy bills. Photo: Morgue File/ppdigital

If you want to do some DIY magic in your home, why not do a little “lite” remodeling for energy efficiency? One of the easiest ways to shrink your energy bill and your footprint is to seal up drafty areas.

To find out where drafts are coming in, close all your doors and windows on a windy day, and walk around the house with a lit stick of incense. When you see the smoke traveling towards a specific area of your home that means outside air is coming in.

Once you’ve identified all your drafty nooks and crannies, it may be hard to know where to start. To help you out, here are some Remodel-Lite options for common problem areas.

1. Your doors

Drafty doors can make your home feel chilly in the winter and leak staggering amounts of energy all year long. Replacing your doors isn’t exactly a “lite” project, but have no fear. There are plenty of things you can do to make your existing doors more efficient.

Start by purchasing a door sweep to close the gap under exterior doors. They’re inexpensive, and they couldn’t be easier to install. Just put them on, and you’re done.

If you also have drafts around your door frame, these can be sealed easily with caulk or a water-based foam sealant. Speak to someone at your local hardware store about the building materials used for your door frame and surrounding walls, and he or she will help you select the right caulk or sealant for the job. Some compounds can be painted and some cannot. So, find one that suits your home best.

Though caulking and sealing aren’t very technical jobs, they can be tricky. First, clean the areas you’re going to seal, and allow them to dry. Follow all instructions on the compound cartridge, including how to clean up a mess if you should spill. When applying the compound, try to use a continual motion and avoid stops and starts. When finished, make sure to allow the compound to dry for the time specified on the package before you touch it.

2. Your windows

Drafty windows can leave you feeling like you’re heating the backyard, and while many say that replacing them is the only way to solve the problem, there are several other things you can do to ditch the draft.

Installing storm windows over your existing windows will yield the best results. The storm windows themselves are fairly pricey, but you can save some cash by installing them yourself. You may also be eligible for a Federal tax credit to help you foot the bill. Once you have chosen the right storm windows for you, install them snugly over your existing windows. Make sure each is securely shut. If you leave any of them in the “up” position, you’ll still feel outside air coming in.

If storm windows come with too big a price-tag, try some insulating plastic instead. Take the plastic and place it onto your window frame. Leave at least an inch of space between the plastic and your window. Keep it on for the season, and remove it when the warm weather comes around. If you remove the sheets carefully, you can even reuse them.

3. Cracks and gaps

Windows and doors aren’t the only places cold air can creep in. Small cracks and gaps can also form around fixtures and foundation. These can lead to higher heating bills, possible water damage and an easy entrance for rodents and insects. But don’t call the exterminator yet. Fixing these cracks is easy.

Common problem areas for these types of cracks include between your walls and foundation, between the chimney and siding, around outdoor water faucets and dryer vents and around wall-unit air conditioners. Once you’ve found the problem, you’re ready to seal it up.

You can use caulk, spray foam or weather stripping to close these holes up. Head down to your local hardware store, and talk to an assistant about the building materials around your cracks. He or she will help you find the sealer that will work best. Keep in mind, if your crack is easily visible, you may want to choose a compound that can be painted over. To keep the project “lite,” start with one room of the house and go from there.

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Mary Mazzoni

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  1. I open the drapes during the day to let solar energy do some heating, and close them up a night to keep the heat in. I really enjoy the light and heating glass provides

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