On a windy day, use a lit candle or incense stick to track down drafts. Focus around windows and doors, along baseboards, and where the walls meet the ceiling. You can seal from the inside with caulking or, for gaps larger than ¼”, use spray foam insulation and then cover with caulking. In spring, caulk around the exterior frames of the windows and doors.
Just because your cottage isn’t fully winterized doesn’t mean you have to forgo running water. Heating cables on your supply line and your sewage outflow will keep things flowing throughout the year.
Do you find some parts of the cottage colder than others? A ceiling fan spinning clockwise on low speed will circulate the warm air throughout building. Also consider adding supplemental heating, such as baseboard heaters or portable space heaters for rooms furthest from the woodstove.
If certain parts of the floors or exterior walls feeler colder than the rest, those areas may be under-insulated. Fibreglass batts, for example, can sag in wall cavities leaving gaps. Or critters might have stolen insulation from your crawlspace for nesting material. Area rugs can help take the chill off your feet for now. Add “insulation upgrade” to next spring’s to-do list.
With the low winter sun, arrival usually occurs after dark. If it’s already too cold to add extra lighting, plug some white LED holiday lights into a timer or add solar-powered pathway lights to illuminate the entrance.
If ice is building up around entranceways, consider adding an awning or some other protective covering to channel water away. If primary pathways get coated with ice, make sure the downspouts aren’t funnelling water towards them. You may need to do some grading in the spring to reduce the risk of falls.
If icicles are building up on your eavestroughs, they probably weren’t cleaned out sufficiently in the fall. The weight of the ice might mean need you’ll have to do some repair work in the spring to rehang them.
In some cases, the ice buildup could be from “ice damming.” This happens in under-insulated or under-vented attics where the moist, warm inside air inside meets the outside air at the bottom of the roofline. Heating cables provide a temporary patch, but a proper fix requires an attic inspection.