It doesn’t take a lot of money to make basic changes to a house to get it ready for winter. Taking care of air leaks and applying a little insulation in just the right spots can save you a lot of money and make your house a comfortable place to be in any weather. In addition to winterizing, homeowners can lower heating costs by choosing energy efficient appliances and windows that pay for themselves with long term use.
It doesn’t cost much to search out air leaks in your house and plug them before the cold winter winds approach. Energy experts at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension state that taking care of air leaks may save 10 to 20 percent on winter heating bills, depending on the condition of your house. Use weather strips and door sweeps to seal up door leaks. Caulk windows with cartridge or rope caulk. Rope caulk is easily removed when warm weather appears. Remember that warm air rises, and pay particular attention to the chimney and attic openings. Check the areas where outside pipes enter the house and seal any leaking areas. Seal ductwork joints with foil tape or mastic paste.
Insulation is another inexpensive method for cutting down on winter costs. Use foam tubing insulation around hot water pipes. Information on the UNH website estimates an insulating jacket for your water tank would cost around $20 at your local hardware store. Follow the instructions carefully when working around hot water tanks, because it’s essential for the top and bottom of the tank to be unobstructed. Do not block the thermostat or burner compartment. Properly insulating attics, basement walls, and floors can lower your heating bill by up to 25 percent.
Heat distribution systems such as radiators and baseboards are less efficient if they are covered in dust, dirt, and pet hair. Clean these areas frequently. Make sure that window treatments (including curtains) don’t block the heat from circulating to the room. Look around the room. Move any furniture that blocks baseboard heating units, at least until winter is over.
Getting new windows can be costly, but there are ways to help the old ones do a better job. Add a storm window, or use plastic sheeting on the inside to seal the window. Some sheeting shrinks when you apply the heat from a hair blower, making it less noticeable and air-tight. Tight-fitting shades and cellular blinds are other ways to minimize the loss of heat in your home. Don’t forget to open the shades and curtains on sunny days so that the solar heat penetrates the room.
People don’t always think about the gutters when it comes time to winterize the home. Gutters that are crammed with leaves and twigs can damage your house. Ice dams in the gutters damages shingles, causes roof leaks and makes the gutters sag or break, resulting in costly repairs. Cleaning out the gutters before snow and ice come costs nothing and can save you money.