Winter is on the way (or has already arrived) in different parts of the country. You know you need to prepare your home, but with all that holiday spending, you really need to winterize on a budget. Good news — although many important home maintenance tasks cost a bundle, winterizing isn’t one of them.
Many effective winterization tasks are easy to accomplish for even the most novice do-it-yourselfer. A minor investment of time and cash can help protect your home’s structure and systems from extreme temperatures, ensuring you stay comfortable inside the house no matter how bad the weather gets.
Here are six simple and cheap things you can do to winterize your home on a budget.
1. Reverse ceiling fans.
Climb a ladder and reverse the rotational direction of your ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans have settings that allow fan blades to turn clockwise or counter-clockwise. In summer, counter-clockwise rotation helps cool the room. In winter, when blades turn clockwise they push warm air that’s gathered at the ceiling back down into the room.
2. Fix air leaks around doors and windows.
Leaky doors and windows increase heating costs and make your home less comfortable. Sealing air leaks can help you use 5–10 percent less energy, and costs roughly $30 and just an hour or two of your time, according to Energy.gov. Recaulk windows and doors where weather sealing is old and worn. For added insulation, tape bubble wrap (the large-cell kind) against the inside of window panes. The air trapped in the cells acts as extra insulation.
3. Help your furnace do its best.
About 41 percent of your home’s total energy consumption goes for heating, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Clogged air filters make your furnace work harder and consume more fuel to keep you warm. You can help your furnace function more efficiently and cost-effectively by changing the air filters regularly. The U.S. Department of Energy says that a clean air filter helps prevent dust and dirt from building up inside the HVAC system. Dirt can cause expensive maintenance issues or even result in total failure of the system.
4. Get with the program.
Install a programmable thermostat and program it to lower the temperature in your home when no one is there and at night when everyone’s tucked under the covers in bed. Energystar.gov offers a free online calculator to help you understand how programming your thermostat could reduce your energy bills.
5. Dodge drafts throughout the house.
While leaky doors and windows are major sources of drafts, there are others in your home that can cost you money too. Look for other places where warm air might be escaping from your home. For example, close the flue on your wood-burning fireplace when you’re not using it. Put a draft dodger under exterior doors. Close heat vents and doors in rooms you’re not using, like the guest bedroom.
6. Show your water heater some love.
Flush your water heater to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank and improve its efficiency. While you’re caring for the water heater, consider wrapping it in an insulating blanket. According to the EnergyStar program’s website, insulating a water tank can help it retain 25 percent to 45 percent more heat, cutting your water heating costs by 4 percent to 9 percent! Pre-cut jackets or blankets are available in most home improvement or hardware stores and will run you around $20.