To borrow a phrase, drafty halls do not make for a comfy house. Now that you’ve purchased your home, make sure your first winter is a warm and cost-effective one.
Below are 18 money-saving ways to winterize your home.
THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR FREE
Clean the Gutters: If rainwater can’t easily flow out the spout, you run the risk of icicles, ice dams, and the damage both can do to your home.
Flush Your Water Heater: Connect a hose to the drain valve and open it up. Sediment at the bottom of the tank will flow out and help increase its efficiency.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans: The same great effect ceiling fans have of cooling your home in the summer can work to warm your home in the winter. If your ceiling fans offer a reverse/clockwise option, use it to push warm air down.
Drain and Seal Hoses/Pipes/Water Lines: Check all of your hoses, A/C shut-off valves, etc. and make sure there’s no water pooled that can freeze and expand and possibly damage equipment. Double-check that all exterior spigots are tightened.
Likewise, check for any water leaks and make sure they’re sealed up.
Roll Up a Towel: Place a rolled up towel up against the bottom of exterior doors to keep warm air from leaking out the gap between the door and the threshold.
Lower Your Water Heater Temperature: If your water heater is still set to the same temperature it was when you moved in, try turning it down a couple of degrees. Even a drop of just a few degrees will knock dollars off your monthly bill while still giving you plenty of hot water in the morning.
Turn the Thermostat Down (or Off): Don’t heat a home that has no one in it. It’s a—very expensive—myth that it costs more to heat a cold house than to keep a warm house warm.
THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR CHEAP
Replace All HVAC Filters: New filters generally run 10-15 dollars and will help keep your system running at peak efficiency (and save you money).
Apply Some Window Insulation Film: A 25-30 dollar kit can help keep as much as 70% of the heat inside your home from sneaking out of your windows. Heat in: good. Heat out: expensive.
Install Some Draft Guards: At ten bucks a pop and about five minutes to install, draft guards are a great way to keep heat from leaking out of the bottom of your exterior doors. (This is an upgrade to the towel trick listed above.)
Weather-strip/Caulk/Seal Windows and Doors: A roll of good-quality weather-stripping tape costs about $10 and is literally peel and stick.
For gaps that are too big for weather-stripping tape, buy a caulking gun and a tube of caulk or sealant and fill them in. Caulk/sealant and gun should run less than $30.
Pro Tip: grab some large cardboard and practice running a bead until you can lay down a smooth, thin, consistent line. Don’t practice on your windows.
Stuff a Balloon Up Your Chimney: If you’re not actually using your fireplace, then it’s just a big hole that heat escapes out of. Buy a chimney balloon for about $50 and fill that hole. (But don’t forget to take it out on Christmas Eve.)
Insulate Your Pipes and Water Heater: Bare pipes are great losers of heat and also at greater risk of freezing in the winter. If you can feel any heat when you put your hand on them, buy some pre-slit foam insulation, cut it to size and secure it with duct tape.
The same goes for your water heater. A water-heater “blanket” only has to be put on once to save you money year-round.
THINGS YOU CAN HIRE PEOPLE TO DO
Tune Your HVAC System: Your furnace is just like you, it needs a check-up now and again to make sure it’s at its best.
If your utility or furnace manufacturer offers free furnace check-ups, take advantage of it sooner rather than later as the techs get really backed up once the snow starts falling.
Seal Those Ducts: Out of sight and out of mind equals out of pocket. Hire a ductwork specialist (not a “duct cleaning service”; most homes don’t need it) to seal your ductwork professionally. This can not only save you over $100 a year but help prevent mold and dust build-up.
Don’t forget to check if your local utility offers a rebate.
BIGGER BUDGET SAVINGS
These upgrades involve a bit more than a quick trip to the home improvement store, but also offer greater long-term savings and/or higher comfort levels.
Northpointe offers several attractive home equity loan options if your house needs a bit more TLC ASAP than your DIY skills can manage.
Make sure all of your new purchases and upgrades are Energy Star-certified for maximum savings.
New Furnace: It’s the age-old trade-off: spend more now to save later. A new furnace may not be cheap, but if yours needs more than a quick tune-up and new filters you’re practically burning money along with oil or gas.
Programmable Thermostat: Programmable thermostats can offer one-to-one savings. Every degree you can lower the temperature equals one percent off your energy bill.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Old, inefficient windows aren’t much more than great, big rectangular holes in your walls. Newer, double- and triple-pane windows with low-emissivity films can dramatically reduce heat loss.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEAT IS
In the middle of a snowstorm is no time to realize how expensive it is to heat a poorly winterized home. The sooner you apply these tips, the warmer you’ll stay and the more money you’ll save.
Want to learn more about cost-effective ways to stay warm and save this winter? Answer a few questions here, and a home lending expert will contact you.