Save Energy using Dollar Store Gear

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Last week I ran a post about how to save energy in the winter. Regular commentator Kathy added a useful tip related to heat conservation (and therefore energy savings):

Are all your windows double paned? If not here is an idea. When my family lived in the country we had single pane windows… we bought thin plastic stuff… and used a hair dryer to seal it.

My windows are double paned, but they’re old. The windows definitely leak heat (specifically at the seam in the middle of the sliding windows).

I found a window insulator kit online at Home Depot. It costs $14 for 5 windows. No thanks.

I dropped by the dollar store, specifically Dollarama, hoping to not only save energy but also save money (cause, let’s face it, I’m not crying about roadkill when I see my 6-figure net worth). When I act like an enviro-hippy, the ends do justify the petty means: building wealth.

At Dollarama, a.k.a. the Chinese-built version of a Promise Land, I found the Duramax Window Insulation Kit for a dollar. That’s about 1/3rd the cost of the Home Depot kit per window.

Dollarama Duramax Window Insulation Kit helps save energy and money in the winter - $1 at Dollarama

Then I hit up Dollar Tree and found the Weather Buster Window Insulation Kit for $1.25.

Dollar Tree Weather Buster Window Insulation Kit helps save energy and money in the winter - $1.25 at Dollar Tree

Supposedly, a properly-installed window insulation kit can save $17 per average-sized window during the winter (based on typical northern US temperatures). If you want to see a step-by-step guide on using window insulating kits, watch this video:

The Weather Buster insulator kit from Dollar Tree is better than the Duramax kit from Dollarama.

  • For the extra $0.25, the Dollar Tree kit gives you real shrink wrap while the Dollarama version is an excessively thick, opaque tarp.
  • The Weather Buster kit is a few inches bigger than the Duramax kit.
  • Finally, Weather Buster gives you plenty of tape while the Dollarama kit’s tape couldn’t even extend around my entire bedroom window.

So, again, if you’re looking for a dollar store window insulating kit, go with Weather Buster, not Duramax. Here’s the window after I sealed it with the Dollar Tree shrink wrap:

Window-insulating plastic wrap in place

But why stop at sealing windows? Saving money knows no bounds (except when it interferes with toilet paper consumption). I loaded up on energy-saving Dollarama gear to help me in my quest. I spent a whopping sum (for the dollar store) of $9.33 to get one of each of the energy-saving items profiled in this piece.

I got this neat vent cover (the Vent-Miser Programmable Energy-Saving Vent Cover to be precise) for $2 — it requires 2 AA batteries so that’s an extra $0.32 (Assuming you buy 8-packs at the dollar store like me). It opens and closes automatically, which can save money by only heating a room when it’s likely to be in use.

Vent-Miser Programmable Energy Saving Vent - $2 at DollaramaVent Miser power-saving programmable register cover

I set the register to open at 11pm, when I’m most likely to be in my bedroom. Then it closes automatically at 11am, hopefully after I’ve woken up. That’ll keep the room warmer while I’m sleeping and let the room get cold during the day.

Keep in mind that, like with ‘zone-heating’, you need to be smart. Don’t risk a burst pipe, cause that would wipe out all of your savings. Also, it only makes sense to use this in a room that you’ll close off for some part of the day. If you live in a house that’s small and open-concept, this device is useless.

My bedroom is 15′ x 16′ (I know, it’s cavernous which isn’t my style). Now I’m only heating it for half of the day, so long as I close the bedroom door. Speaking of which…

I bought this door cozy or “Double Sided Draft Guard” at Dollarama for three bucks.

Double Draft Guard box - $3 at Dollarama - save money by stopping door air leaks

This product will definitely reduce drafts and save you money — if your exterior door is close enough to the ground (or else it’ll drop off) and there’s no awkward threshold that could interfere with the draft guard’s sliding. When I got home, I found out that it wouldn’t work on any of my exterior doors. Instead, I’ve put it on my bedroom door, again with the intention of “sealing off” the room during the day. Dumb purchase, I know, but I doubt Dollarama’s return policy is lax enough to account for my stupidity.

Here’s the draft guard ‘installed’ on my bedroom door (it’s all bendy because I took this picture right after I took it out of the package):

Double Draft Guard in place

Today’s final piece of dollar store gear is perhaps the lowest tech: a self-adhesive weather strip. I bought it for a buck at Dollarama and put it along the top of an exterior door to close a massive gap.

Weather stripping in place to save energy by preventing heat loss - $1 at Dollarama

I actually ended up having to move this, because it caught in door frame. The gap isn’t perfectly sealed, but it significantly reduces the leak. I’m going to pick up more of these self-adhesive draft-blocker strips for my exterior doors. They’re cheap, easy to install, and will pay for themselves several times over.

There you have it: five dollar store items that could help you save energy this winter. More important than energy, these low-tech gadgets can save you money.

And I just wrote a post that I can re-use in the spring by substituting the words “summer” and “AC” for “winter” and “heat”.

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6 Comments… Share your views

  1. I once had an energy assessment done on a house I lived in. It was literally a guy walking around with an incense stick. There may have been more to it than that, (I was a tenant at the time so I wasn’t paying too much attention)… but if you are looking for leaks through your house that’s how the pros do it. Another thing you can buy at Dollarama ;) Happy winterizing!

    • Are you sure that was actually a qualified guy, not just a random Bellevillian who wandered into the house to get high? lmao

      Good tip on the incense, although I think visitors might think poorly of the smell. On the doors, to see how bad the cracks are, I’ve checked with a flashlight. Even my hand seems to work pretty well so long as it’s really cold out.

  2. Our local Dollar Tree is opening very shortly. I guess I won’t be buying those shrink window covers at Cdn Tire anymore, except perhaps the huge patio door ones. I’m guilty of just leaving the window covers on all year (though I probably should to improve fresh air flow in the summer). I actually have to refresh the tape holding them on: dried up and let loose.

    Dollarama has… I was going to say a horrible return policy, but it’s actually a no-return policy. No exchanges or refunds. I assume if something breaks immediately after you buy it, you’re SOL (out of luck for those unfamiliar with the acronym).

    • Their policy is interesting because I’m pretty certain there’s a law or precedent that vendors must sell goods of “merchantible quality”. So if you buy a dollar store item and it doesn’t work and breaks (without exceeding reasonable use) you have a right to return it. But, then again, if they say “No returns” your only real option is to sue, unless there’s a regulator involved to make recourse possible through a less expensive venue, e.g. an administrative tribunal. Lawsuits seeking a dollar in damages are probably fairly rare and I doubt a class action suit would really take off lol. I’ve found some items available at Dollarama selling at Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart for 3 – 5x the price. I guess if that’s the cost of a generous return policy, I’ll roll the dice on dollar stores.

  3. I live in a 1957 house with single paned original casement windows. I have a feeling it would take me the entire winter to get film onto each and every single pane. However, i had not considered the Dollar Tree as a place that might have some energy efficient tools. I’ll have to check it out!

    • The beauty is you don’t need to put it on every single pane — you can cover multiple pains at once. My windows are split in two and I only used one sheet per bedroom window.

      The “prep” takes about 90% of the time. You need to clean the surface you’re going to put the tape on (the window sill), make sure it’s dry, and apply the double-sided tape. Attaching the actual sheet and blow-drying it takes like two minutes.

      You live a lot further south, so the benefit certainly won’t be $17 per window. But I’d hazard the guess that you’ll save enough to make it worth your while.

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