How to Winterize Your Home for Maximum Savings
The heat of summer is fading fast and fall temps may be prompting some around the country to start turning up the thermostat. With the rising costs of living already hampering many families, the added costs of heating oil and electricity will prove to be a real burden over the long, cold winter months.
In order to save money on winter heating costs, it is essential you start preparing your home to battle to cold before it takes hold. Most of the winterizing steps you need to take are relatively easy, do-it-yourself tasks that will not cost you as much as heating your home will. With initiative and some time, you can ensure big savings.
Low Cost/Simple Tasks
Here are some cheap and easy tips for winterizing against Old Man Winter:
Check windows and doors
Check the weather-stripping around all of your doors and windows, including those in the basement and attic, as they may deteriorate over time and due to the elements. Replacements are not expensive and can make a big difference in your heating bills. Make a draft catcher pillow out of old clothing or keep a rolled blanket at the base of all doors.
Check pipes and utility holes
Any areas where piping or cable leads to the outside of your home should be checked for drafts. Use a color-coordinated caulking or expandable foam insulation spray to fill in holes and gaps.
Cover permanent AC units
If you have a window unit air conditioner mounted into the wall, purchase a specialized cover or use a quality tarp to cover the outside of the unit. Inside the home, the air conditioner frame should be sealed off with foam insulation.
Inspect storm windows
When the weather is no longer warm enough to keep the windows open, check all glass storm windows for cracks or other damage and make sure they are tightly closed.
Shut off unused rooms
If you can control heat in rooms you do not use, turn heat on low and make sure all doors remain shut to prevent wasting heat.
Adjust the thermometer
During the day when no one is in and the sun is heating the exterior of your home, keep the thermostat low; only turn it up during the evening hours to keep the dampness and chill out of the air. Wear layered clothing and use blankets when hanging out at home. Leave blinds and curtains open during the sunlight hours and close them tight at night.
Hire professional cleaning
Having your furnace checked by a professional is not optional. For the safety of your family, you need to check your heating system before the start of each fall/winter season. Also have chimneys, fireplaces, and other supplemental heat sources checked for problems. A professional cleaning will cost a few hundred dollars but if you take the initiative to learn how to do it yourself, you can save the cash for something else. Ask a relative who is handy with home repairs or hang out with the pro on the next visit and learn what you have to do. Home improvement stores like Lowe's often sponsor classes in home improvement, so check in with your local store to find out more.
Bigger Jobs to Start Saving For
You may not have the cash to do a total home makeover before winter hits, but it is smart to be aware of the bigger jobs that need attention and start saving now. Over time, homes will all need more attention and simple tasks will no longer be enough to make your home heat efficient.
Here are some of the bigger things you need to consider:
Replace drafty windows
If most of your home's windows are old and drafty, it would be smart to invest the cash to replace them all at the same time. If you can't afford to redo all windows, start with those located in the most frequently used rooms like bedrooms, living room, and kitchen. Check with your local government offices and ask if there are any rebate programs or assistance for replacing windows and making your home more energy efficient. Also, check in with the IRS to learn more about energy-efficient tax credits.
If you have an older home, you may have some insulation but not enough to sufficiently keep the heat inside. Fully insulating your home will not only save you money over the long haul, it will also improve the value of your home if you choose to sell down the road. Contact several home improvement contractors now and request a free estimate. Compare prices and work being completed. You'll have a financial goal to work towards during the next year and it will help you make the work a priority.
Invest in solar panels
Go a little green by investing in some solar panels which uses the sun as a heat source. Find a reputable contractor that works with solar panels and request free estimates so you'll know if it's financially an option for your home.