Against this, there are a number of simple things the home owner may do himself or have done. Nobody begrudges money spent for fuel that keeps the house at a comfortable, even temperature. In the days when six dollars bought a ton of the best anthracite coal and the pea and buckwheat sizes were sold as waste products, it may have been a matter of small importance that certain spots in a house leaked heat and let in cold. Besides, in an era when windows closed tightly with the first cold blasts of fall and remained so until spring, such ventilation was probably a life saver. But at the present high prices for either coal or fuel oil, these points about the house where heat is lost and winter cold crashes the gate should be taken seriously.
With a new house, of course, everything possible in the nature of built-in metal weatherstripping and thoroughly insulated exterior walls were included by the architect when he prepared plans and specifications. But even he may have ignored one of the most practical means of conserving warmth. This is a set of storm windows and doors carefully fitted so they open and shut at will, yet are snug enough so that little cold penetrates. These are remarkable conservers of heat. Measured scientifically, the amount that escapes by radiation through ordinary window glass is amazing. The storm window reduces this to a minor percentage because the dead-air space between the two thicknesses of glass acts as an efficient means of insulation.
Storm doors and windows are now made in stock dimensions that fit practically any frame. Quantity production has made their price so moderate that the saving on fuel for a single winter can exceed their initial cost and the labor of fitting and putting them in place. Such windows and doors should be properly marked, like the screens that replace them in summer, with numbering tacks so that, each fall, they may be put in proper place without confusion. The system is simplicity itself. A duplicate tack bears the same number on the sill of each window and on the upright of each door. This is a real saver of time, for so small a variation as half an inch in width or height can make the difference between doors and windows that really fit and those that leak air. Such proportions vary even with a new house.
The only requisite for such a complement of double doors and windows is a proper place to store them during the summer months. Being largely of glass, if they are not put away carefully, the breakage can be both annoying and needlessly expensive. So it is well to provide a special compartment, located in the garage or other convenient place, where these may be placed when not in use. Similarly, the same section may be used in the winter for door and window screens as well as garden furniture.
Except for the new country house or one that has been completely remodeled or renovated, each succeeding fall brings minor repairs. These ought to be undertaken during those cool crisp days of fall that precede freezing weather and penetrating winter winds. They will vary with age and state of repair but they begin with the cellar and progress upward to the attic. Unless your house is unusually ailing, probably not all of these will be necessary but at least there should be a careful examination and diagnosis. Here is the list.