It’s time to prepare your home for the frigid winter days ahead. By using handy tips to help you winterize your home, you can save a significant amount of money off your heating bills. Even if you have a small budget to allow for home improvements, there are many things you can do to help save money this winter. A few of the fixes are free, while others may run a few dollars more. If you have a larger budget, making major improvements to your home can pay off in the long run by paying for themselves. This is a really attractive option if you plan to stay in your home for the next few years.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use, which is money right out of your pocket. Older homes especially may have drafty doors and windows. For doors, use an old-time draft dodger. These stuffed fabric rolls go against the door to prevent cold air from seeping in around thresholds. You can make your own from fabric scraps and decorate with eyes and tails to look like an animal, or stick with a plain and simple design. If you don’t have a draft dodger, simply roll up an old towel or throw rug and wedge firmly against the door.
Drafty windows may benefit from replacing loose or rotten wooden windowsills. Caulking is simple and inexpensive to do yourself. Rolled kitchen towels will fit smaller windowsills. A good alternative to the expense of replacing windows is using a window insulation kit, which covers windows in an almost-clear plastic. Use ceiling fans to help circulate warm air by reversing them to blow clockwise. Since warm air rises, this will push the heat back down into the living space. This can help save up to 10% on heating.
Don’t forget your pipes. Inexpensive pipe wraps are available that open up and slip around your pipes. Wrap hot water pipes for savings on heating water. While wrapping pipes, cover outdoor faucets with foam faucet covers, which only cost a couple of dollars each. This will help keep outdoor pipes from freezing. The filter in your heating and cooling unit should be changed regularly. Check once a month to see if it needs changing or cleaning. Allowing a filter to become too dirty will noticeably increase heating bills. If you have a fireplace, enlist the services of a chimney sweep to be sure that there is no soot build up inside chimney that might cause a fire. Remember to close the damper when not using the fireplace. Fireplace and wood stove doors should have a tight seal.
Change your mindset
Simply changing a few habits can save without costing you anything. Before you automatically turn the thermostat up, consider putting on a sweater or sweatpants. Save the bare feet for summer and put on socks and slippers. Dial the thermostat down a couple degrees and put an extra blanket on the bed. If you have a large picture window, you may find that it keeps your room warmer to keep the drapes closed, especially in an older home where windows are not double-paned.
For the long-haul
If building a new home or remodeling, upgrade your insulation’s R factor to the highest rating you can afford. The savings can be substantial, and you may be able to take advantage of federal tax credits for making certain energy-efficient improvements to your home. Save all receipts and consult a tax professional. Upgrade windows to double-paned or insulated windows, or hang storm windows outside before cold weather sets in. If replacing exterior doors, look for more insulated doors. If they have glass panes, be sure the glass is energy-efficient.