Stay Connected

Monday, November 28, 2022

Locking Out the Cold: Using Deadbolt Locks as Low-Tech (and Free) Way to Hold in the Heat

I grew up in a time and place when many folks didn't lock their doors during the day. In fact, in my early years, my parents only locked the front door at night, but not the back or side door. Times have changed. Today, I keep doors locked all day. 

But now I have another reason to keep my doors bolted -- a better seal against the weatherstripping resulting in better heat retention in winter. 

Weatherstripping in the door frame is an inexpensive upgrade for sealing out drafts. However, the weatherstripping doesn't do its job if the door itself isn't held tightly closed against it. All of our exterior doors have both the knob lock (in the knob itself) and a deadbolt. On about half the doors, the knob lock doesn't hold the door tightly against the frame. But when I use the deadbolt on those doors, I get that super tight seal.

I was researching what we can actually do for free to help keep our heating costs down this winter. In addition to using the deadbolt during the day as well as at night, the following ideas can all be incorporated for absolutely free to help keep heating costs reasonable: 

  • using old fashioned draft snakes for doors and windows (can be as simple as rolled up towels or quilts)
  • opening curtains at dawn and closing them at dusk
  • closing off unused rooms
  • removing window screens on south-facing windows for the winter (window screens block some passive solar heat)
  • vacuum heat registers/vents
  • keep extra throws and warm clothing/accessories in strategic places in the house
Just like our moms used to say when we complained of being cold, "go put on a sweater."

What I like about these free and low-tech ways to keep heat bills in check is all of these can be done whether you own or rent your home. I also like that I can do any or all of these on a moment's notice. I don't need to find money in the budget or make an appointment with a contractor. I can impact our bills right now. Of course, these are all small efforts towards a larger budget item. But lots of small amounts together will add up.


  1. How interesting! I didn't know that.

    We have draft snakes--actually, I knitted one styled as a caterpillar a few years ago. I'm also a huge fan of closing the curtains at night and opening them by the day. On especially cold and windy days, I sometimes keep them closed--we replaced the windows in our home so our windows are of decent quality, but even so, if it's especially gusty out, I still can feel a little bit of breeze. Also, I have a bazillion throws around the house and they all get used!

    I just read that you aren't supposed to keep doors closed as it forces the furnace to work harder due to blocking off the heat returns?? I suppose it depends on the house. Our house is fairly small and is a ranch style with a basement. Larger homes are zoned for heating so I suppose that may make a difference.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I think keeping rooms closed off or not depends on your heating system and location of cold air returns. Obviously, if you have baseboard or electric wall-mount heat in individual rooms that you can turn off or run at a lower set temp, keeping the doors to that or those rooms would save on your heat bill without damage to your heat source. If your cold air returns are located in the "open" areas of your home (like hallways), I would think closing off one or two rooms would not impair your furnace's performance. In any case, cleaning your cold air returns and not blocking their intake with furniture is important for furnace performance. I agree, it all depends on your house.

      I'd love to see a photo of your draft caterpillar, if your wouldn't mind emailing me.

    2. I overstuffed the caterpillar and it looks more like a slug.

    3. Ha ha, Kris. Slugs can be cute, too. So long as they're not in the garden.

  2. Interesting discussion about whether to close things off or not. We have the vents closed in a couple of rooms that we don't use often and the in-take vents aren't in there. However, I will investigate to make sure we're okay.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      If you come across any valuable info on to close or not to close rooms, if there's no cold air return, please let me know.


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post