It’s that time of year again: cozy evenings spent by the fire, hot apple cider, holiday cheer and… higher heating bills? Not necessarily!
With colder temperatures just around the corner, now is the time to take steps to lower your energy costs. Fortunately, winterizing your home doesn’t have to be difficult or costly.
Here are three ways to prepare your home for winter before the snow and sleet hit.
- Stop the Drafts
Though they may not be visible, holes, cracks or seams in your home’s walls, windows and doors allow cold air to sneak in and warm air to escape… so you need to seal them. Start by walking your home’s exterior and looking for gaps around windows and doors. Don’t forget to check hose faucets and where siding meets the foundation. Use expanding foam sealant or acrylic-latex caulk to fill the gaps.
Next, inspect the weather stripping. Close a piece of paper between the window or door and the frame. If you can pull the paper out, it’s time to replace the stripping. Self-adhesive stripping — available at hardware and home improvement stores — offers an easy DIY fix.
Now seek out drafts inside your home. Choose a cold day and stand near doors, windows and electrical outlets. If you feel air movement or notice cooler temperatures in certain areas, fill gaps with caulk and insulate outlet covers with foam gaskets.
You can use a lighted stick of incense to find drafts. Simply hold the incense near windows and doors and watch how the smoke moves. If it streams away, you’ve found a crack.
Finally, place draft guards underneath doors to prevent drafts and heat loss. You can purchase pre-made guards or simply roll up a towel.
- Optimize Your HVAC
Your furnace works hard to keep you warm, so give it some TLC to keep it running smoothly. If it’s been a while since you checked the filter, now is a great time to replace it.
Dirty filters obstruct air flow, which makes your furnace work harder and run for longer periods to heat your home. Not only does replacing the filter on a regular schedule — generally, every one or two months — help lower your heating bills, it can keep your furnace purring along for longer.
Reduce energy costs by turning the thermostat down to 68 degrees while you’re awake and lowering it when you’re sleeping or out of the house. According to the U.S.. Department of Energy, lowering your thermostat by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours each day will reduce annual utility costs by up to 10 percent. A “smart” or programmable thermostat makes it even easier to increase efficiency.
- Shore Up Your Windows
We’ve already talked about sealing window frames with caulk and installing new weather stripping. But on the coldest days, your windows will still let in the chill.
One easy fix? Seasonal insulated curtains that keep cold air out and warm air in. Just remember to keep the drapes closed when sun isn’t shining directly on the windows. For a more permanent solution, install insulated blinds.
You may also install window insulation film. While it may not be pretty, it’ll help reduce heat loss by up to 70 percent.
Don’t forget to a peak in the attic to see how much insulation is in the space. A minimum of 12″ is recommended. Blown in insulation is a very easy and economical solution to heat loss through the roof!
Don’t let chilly temperatures leave you in the cold! These winterization tips will keep your home toasty and help you save on energy costs this winter.