When thinking of ways to keep a house warm, many turn their thoughts to intrusive and often expensive solutions like wall insulation and triple glazed windows. What they don't realize is that something as simple as a draft excluder can cut dollars per week off their monthly heating bill.
A draft excluder is essentially a sausage shaped soft furnishing placed at the bottom of a door. Not only do they block out cool air coming in from outside, but they stop hot air from escaping through any gap under the door as well. They're incredibly simple to make with a sewing machine, and easily customizable to match the décor of your home, too.
There are a number of different fillings you can choose for your homemade draft excluder and you should choose according to your living situation and where the draft excluder will go in the house. It's best to have light fillings for inner rooms and heavier ones for the front and back doors.
Styrofoam balls – These have insulating properties and are cheap, but they can also cause problems when ingested. If you have small children or animals then it's best to invest in plastic balls instead.
Rice/beans – Great for a heavier excluder, but grains of rice can cause holes in the material due to rough ends.
Sand – Sufficient, but only if you live in a very dry area. Sand will soak up moisture in the air and go moldy.
Aquarium gravel – Good for a heavy excluder. Easy to get hold of and can be used for homemade door stops too.
Stuffing – Best for lightweight bedroom and lounge excluders which need to be moved around a lot.
It is best to use muslin or a simple thin fabric for an inner sleeve. This way, if something happens to your filling (it expands and bursts, gets damp or goes moldy) you can throw it away but keep the external decorated sleeve.
To make both sleeves, first measure the length of your door and allow 25cm extra so it is 5cm longer than the door on each side, with 5cm for one hem, and 10cm for the opening. How wide you make your excluder is entirely up to you, but most are around 25cm (leaving 2.5cm for the hem on each side). Make sure you have two pieces this size, place together and sew around three ends leaving the one with the 10cm hem open. Once you've made the inner sleeve, stuff it and hand sew it shut. Put this inside the outer sleeve and then decide you how you want your excluder to fasten. You could sew in a small zip, or perhaps a series of buttons. Make sure you secure them so that you are left with a 5cm flap to cover over the fastening and make it neat. Alternatively, you could close it off at all ends and insert a long zip along the bottom length of the excluder.
Customize your excluder by knitting three rows of 40 stitches, bunching that into a flower shape and sewing it on. Alternatively you could use the embroidery option on your sewing machine, buy appliqué patterns to sew on or attach buttons on a flap. Some people like to go one step further and quilt the external sleeve.
In summer, simply put your excluders in the attic so that they prevent the hot air coming down through the ceilings, or put them in your baby or toddler's outside play area to provide extra padding. There are no boundaries on how you decorate your excluders, or even how big you make them. Who is to prevent you from making one for your garage door?