There are several things you can do to winterize your home and ease the financial toll of winter. Some of them cost money upfront, but you’ll save money from reduced heating costs and spare yourself some headaches in the long run. If you want to be warmer this winter while saving money, check out these tips on winterizing your home.
Clean out your Gutters
This won’t necessarily reduce your heating bill, but it’s an important thing to do when transitioning out of fall. Built up leaves in your gutter can block rain and snow melt, causing ice damns that can lead to water leaking into your house. You want to make sure that you have a clear path for all running water to run down your gutter.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
It may seem like a silly idea to use your fan at all in the winter, but it can actually help circulate air and reduce your heating bill. When you reverse your fan so it blows air up towards the ceiling instead of down into the room, it keeps warm air from collecting just below the ceiling and keeps the room at a more consistent temperature. If you have no air circulation and you’re trying to heat your home, the air at the top of the room may reach a full ten degrees higher than your target temperature, causing you to pay for heat that you’re not feeling.
Note: Generally, when a ceiling fan is set in reverse “winter” mode, it will be spinning clockwise (looking up).
Drain Your External Faucets
Water lines that lead outside are most likely to freeze and burst, which can lead to flooding and possible water damage. The last thing you want in the middle of winter is water in your basement.
Seal Your Windows
For about $4 per window, you can keep heat from leaving your home and stop cold drafts from seeping in your windows by covering your windows with an insulator kit. This is basically a thin, clear sheet you stretch over your entire window.
Another option is to apply caulk around the edges of your windows.
Replace Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace will run more efficiently with a clean filter, and you’ll also be breathing cleaner air. A new furnace filter costs around $5 to $15.
Repair Your Shingles
Cracked or missing shingles can lead to water leaking into your roof. You can replace damaged shingles for around $1 per shingle.
Plug Your Chimney
A fireplace may keep you warm when in use, but when it’s not, it’s essentially an open passage for heat to leave your home. For around $50, you can buy an inflatable chimney plug that will keep cold drafts from blowing down into your home, and keep warm air from rising out the chimney.
If you have a programmable thermostat installed in your home, you save money by letting your home be cooler while you’re out of the house, and your desired temperature when you are home. A programmable thermostat will cost $50 to $100.
Insulation has a fairly high initial cost, but you will quickly save the money you spent buy fully insulating your home. Your attic is one of the most important places to insulate, and even if you already have some insulation, adding more could dramatically lower your heating bills. Typically, you should have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic—enough to cover your ceiling joists, which are usually 10 to 11 inches wide.
Before serious cold sets in, make sure your furnace is in proper working order. It’s a good idea to have your furnace inspected and/or tuned up before it’s put into heavy use. This may cost around $100-$125.
Contributed by Patrick Dunn