Five Steps to Weatherproof Your Home

By weatherproofing your home, you can save big bucks on your energy bill. Weatherproofing is the process of sealing cracks and air leaks to keep cold air out during the winter and hot air during the summer. In addition, the hot or cold air generated by heaters and air conditioners won’t leak out of the house either. Real Estate Agent Angie Noeth provides us here with five steps you can take to weatherproof your home and reduce your heating costs by up to 40%.

1. Caulk Your Windows
Caulking will create a tight seal around your window frame. You’ll find a variety of different types of caulk at the hardware store. The labels will tell you whether it’s for interior or exterior use and whether it can be painted over. Some caulk comes in aerosol cans, and other types need to be applied with a caulk gun.

It’s best to apply caulk on a warm, dry day. First, scrape away paint and dirt from the area. Make sure the surface is dry before you begin caulking. Once you’re ready, spread the caulk between the window frame and the siding. When you’re finished one section of the window, use a caulking tool to smooth it out.

2. Apply Weather Stripping
Weather stripping can be used in addition to caulking, and it’s is one of the easiest ways to seal your windows from drafts. It’s also extremely affordable as a roll only costs around $5-10. Weather stripping can be made from vinyl, foam, or felt. Vinyl is the most durable of the materials and will last the longest, but foam and felt are cheaper. All three types come as self-adhesive rolls.

Before purchasing weather stripping, measure around the window frame and sash. Add your measurements together to figure out what size roll you’ll need. When you’re ready to install it, clean off the surfaces of the window with a damp cloth. Let it dry and cut the weather stripping to the appropriate length. Then apply it to both sides of the frame. You can also use weather stripping around your door.


3. Put on a Door Sweep
Installing a door sweep is simple, and it will block drafts from entering through the crevice at the bottom of your door. First, measure along the bottom of your door. You may need to saw off the edges of a door sweep so it will fit, so make sure you measure carefully. Some door sweeps will slide into place while others need to be screwed into the bottom of the door. For doors that swing inward, make sure the screws face inside. Doors that swing outward, meanwhile, should have the screws facing outside. Door sweeps usually cost around $25 at the hardware store.

4. Install Outlet Insulation
Although many newer homes have insulation already installed around the electrical outlets, most older home do not. Gaps around electrical outlets may seem small, but the hot or cold air escaping through them can really add up. These foam insulators are a cheap and easy to install solution. Just unscrew the wall plate from an electrical outlet or light switch, insert the foam insulator, and put the plate back on. Remember to always be careful when working around electrical wire.

5. Get a Storm Door
Storm doors provide and extra layer of insulation between your regular door and the elements. They are especially helpful in colder climates. Heavy-duty aluminum will prevent cold winter winds from entering your house. If you already have a storm door, make sure it’s still positioned properly in your door frame and that the hinges are attached tightly.

Storm doors are one of the more expensive methods of weatherproofing your home. They can range between $100-500. However, you can get EnergyStar tax breaks if you buy a door that qualifies for the government program. In addition, you’ll recoup whatever money you spend because your heating bills will be lower.

Get Creative: Ideas To Keep Your Elderly In-Laws Entertained and Active

Boredom is a formidable enemy to the elderly. It is vital, for the aging, to stay busy with something; be it an activity, a hobby, or a game. Entertaining the elderly can be a frustrating task at times. It is important to be prepared; arm yourself with plenty of ideas for activities. Your in-laws may be resistant, at first, to your suggestions. Be kind and persistent and they will likely come around. The following are a handful of ideas to help keep your elderly in-laws entertained and, more importantly, engaged in the world around them.

Arts and Crafts
Simple projects are a great way to keep your elderly in-laws busy. Easily done indoors, these ideas are weather-proof and don’t require stepping foot outside the house. Scrap booking is very popular with elderly women, especially, and provides a great trip down memory lane. Knitting is another craft that elderly people tend to enjoy. To keep up with an aging population, manufacturers now make knitting tools specifically designed for seniors. Woodworking is a fantastic option that helps keep motor skills active. Each of these ideas are easy to pick up at the beginner level, making them ideal for the elderly. Most importantly, learning a new hobby stretches the brain and provides attainable goals. Talk to your in-laws about picking up any of these hobbies and be sure to listen to any suggestions they may have.

Senior Center Activities
No matter where you live, there is probably a senior center near. If your in-laws are able to get out of the house, do your best to get them connected with a local center. These centers provide a way to interact with others their same age and are a wonderful resource for classes. If your in-laws are active enough to exercise, get them involved in a senior exercise class. Many seniors enjoy swimming, aerobics, even yoga classes. Staying physically active will provide countless health benefits to your in-laws.

Games for the Mind
One of the most productive things your elderly in-laws can do is exercise their minds. Working a daily crossword puzzle is a fantastic way to keep an aging brain active and challenged. Board games are another fun way to work the brain; ZengoScrabble, Grey Matters Trivia, and Monopoly are all great choices. If they are up for the challenge, suggest your in-laws learn to play chess. Start a new tradition by hosting family game night once a week. This will give your in-laws something special to look forward to and keep them practicing throughout the week.

Entertaining your elderly in-laws is not an easy job; armed with the proper tools and perspective, however, it is possible to keep them active. Your hard work and determination will be rewarded in the end when your in-laws are happy and content.

How to Keep Your House Clean and Healthy

The hectic pace of modern life can take a toll on the cleanliness and health of your home. Toys don’t get put away, the trash is overflowing and junk mail is piled up on the kitchen counter. Clutter builds up and you put off cleaning. When you do clean, you use products that contain hazardous chemicals that can harm your health.

A clean, healthy house naturally supports the mental and physical well-being of your family. So what can you do to get the clean, healthy house that you desire?

Understanding what is causing your home to be unhealthy and finding alternatives can get you started in the right direction. Below, we identify four common problem areas and what you can do about them.


Clutter is probably the biggest obstacle to having a clean and healthy home. Clutter slowly takes over flat surfaces, closets, under-bed areas, floors and furniture. If it’s not addressed, it can quite literally make you sick and tired.

Do yourself and your family a favor and get rid of the clutter. You’ll find you have a lighter, brighter house that is far easier to clean once the clutter is gone.

Toxic Household Cleaners

“Clean” and “healthy” are often linked together in the same sentence. But the reality is that cleaning products are anything but healthy.

Many household cleaners contain ingredients that are known to cause health problems such as cancer, immune disorders and fatigue. To find out if your cleaning supplies include any of these, check the labels for the following: APEs, formaldehyde, organochlorines, styrene and phthalates. Some of the biggest culprits are disinfectants, floor wax, all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergent.

Many toxic household cleaners can be replaced with benign products such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and borax. If you don’t feel like making your own, there are many green cleaning products in stores these days.

Common Allergens

Common allergens such as dust, mold, pollen and pet dander can create an unhealthy environment and your life miserable. Removing clutter will cut down on a lot of nooks and crannies where these substances can collect and build up to the point where they cause serious health concerns.

Dusting and vacuuming regularly will help eliminate allergens from carpets, furniture and other surfaces. Washing bedding can remove dander left behind by a sleeping pet. And you can trap pollutants floating in the air by installing a HEPA air filter in your HVAC.

If you live in a damp climate, mold can be problematic. Use a dehumidifier to dry out the air in damp areas such as basements. Dry air creates a less hospitable environment for mold to grow.

Other Toxins

There are a few other toxins that regularly end up in your house that should be avoided for optimal health.

Upholstered furniture and carpet often contain toxic materials. Several furniture and carpet manufacturers have started using safer materials and labeling their products accordingly. When it’s time to replace an item, look for these alternatives.

Scented products from air fresheners to garbage bags are very popular. Synthetic fragrances can release dozens of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, some of which are regulated as hazardous materials. Unfortunately you won’t find these ingredients listed on the label because the compounds are considered “trade secrets”. Avoiding them altogether is your best course of action.

After you’ve eliminated some of these items from your home, you may start to notice some changes in the way you feel. The side-effects of a truly clean and healthy home include: better sleep, improved mood and an overall sense of well-being.