The weather will be getting cooler soon, and it’s important to stay warm. How can you keep your home warm without spending too much money? Here are several low cost options to stay warm this winter:
Stay warm this winter
With the cold weather coming, you can cut your energy bills down by taking a weekend to winterizing your home. Some of the tips below are DIY, but a few will have to be done by a professional HVAC, plumbing, or handyman technician.
Professional heating system maintenance:
- Change your air filter on your heat pump or gas furnace. Depending on the quality of air filter you use, change filters somewhere between 1-3 months. Dirty filters cause your heating unit to work harder by trying to pull air through a clogged mess that you’re circulating around the entire home now.
- Annual tune-ups by a professional technician to come to your house, check, and clean your HVAC system, whether your home has a heat pump, gas furnace, or gas fireplace. A dirty unit causes it to work harder which consumes more energy. Tune-ups extend the life of your unit and saves money on your electrical bill.
- Check exposed ductwork for leaks around the seams.
- Have your chimney cleaned.
- Get a programmable thermostat. Keeping your house at a constant temperature all day long, if you are not there, wastes energy. Why keep the temperature in your house at 72° in the winter, if no one is there? With a programmable thermostat, you can program the thermostat to go down to 68° and an hour before you are going to be home, it will raise the temperature to what you feel is comfortable. You can even get a thermostat that you can control with your smartphone. You can reduce costs by 8% decreasing the thermostat for 8 hours a day.
- Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Winter plumbing maintenance:
- If your water heater is older, wrap a blanket around it as insulation to help keep heated water hot.
- Wrap exposed water pipes so the water doesn’t cool as it flows from tank to faucet.
- Disconnect garden hoses and sprinkler systems to prevent frozen pipes from bursting.
- Buy piping insulation for your outside spigots.
Block outside airflow from entering your home so you can stay warm this winter
Prevent leaking warmed air out into the cold with these insulation tips.
- Inspect your doors for gaps. Open your door and place a dollar bill on your door jamb. Shut the door and try to pull the dollar out. If the dollar slides out, add weather-stripping to your door jamb to prevent cold air from coming in. Next, check your door sweep for a tight seal. Or find some fun fabric and make a draft stopper to keep in front of your door.
- Installing a storm door can increase your energy efficiency by 45%.
- Check around electrical outlets and switches that are on exterior walls. Air can come in through small gaps around the electrical boxes. Your options are to either buy pre-cut foam gaskets or you can use spray foam to fill the gaps.
- Deal with drafts around your windows and baseboards. Caulk outside around the trim of your windows and doors.
- Locking your windows will seal them together and block outside airflow. If you still feel a draft, you can use clear weather-stripping tape around the edges, but be careful removing the tape later. Tape will sometimes remove paint underneath if not mindfully pulled off.
- Remove window air conditioners if possible. If not possible, install an a/c cover and tape the edges with weather-stripping tape.
- Check the insulation in your attic. If your attic is well insulated, the entire roof will remain the same temperature and not cause pockets of ice around the eaves.
- Add weather-stripping around the entrance of your attic.
- Check for cracks around the outside of your house. Seal around chimneys, and anywhere pipes and wires are coming out of your house. Also, seal around your dryer vent.
- Close your fireplace flue when it’s not in use. Keep doors closed to keep the cold air out.
- Weather-strip your garage door to keep the cold weather and small animals out.
Home design changes you can make to stay warm this winter
- Change the direction of your ceiling fan. Switch your fan to run counter clock wise to bring the warm air that’s pooled at the ceiling down.
- Rearrange your furniture so the heavier pieces are near the outside walls. This uses your the furniture you already own to use as insulation.
- Consider using thermal drapes to help prevent drafts.
A winterized roof looks needs this:
- Clean the debris in your gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Ice dams damages shingles.
- Check your roof for missing/damaged shingles to prevent water from damaging your roof.
- Consider planting evergreens as a windbreak near your house. A windbreak can save up to 30% in energy costs.
- Check the trees around your home for dead branches. Clear out any dead branches before the snow and wind does. Cut back any branches that are hanging over your house and driveway. You don’t want snow laden branches falling on your house or car.
- Place straw bales around your foundations to block the cold air.
- Buy a snow shovel.
Quick tips for when winter weather has already arrived!
Have a plan if power goes out. How will your home keep your family warm and safe? Here are quick tips to implement when winter weather is already here.
•If roads are still safe to travel on, stock up on emergency supplies like snow salt, snow shovel, water, extra canned goods, flash lights, extra batteries, first aid kit, and gas fuel (if applicable). It’s better to have this stuff before you need than it in the middle of a winter storm warning.
•Check to see what you can use as an alternative source of heat in case your power goes out, such as gas fireplace, space heater, or wood stove. Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Keep heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, drapes, clothing, blankets, and children.
•If you’re using gas fueled heat anywhere in the house, test both your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detector to ensure they’re working. Replace either the batteries or the detectors, if they’re not working when you test them.
•Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night to help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Locate the water shut-off valve, so you know where to go if a pipe bursts.
•Water is harder to freeze when it’s moving. If your pipes typically freeze, leave your hot and cold faucets drip overnight then open cabinet doors to allow uninsulated pipes under sinks and on exterior walls to warm.
•Wear layers of warm clothes, including thermal long underwear. Double your socks.
•Pull out the sleeping bags and extra blankets. Use electric blankets when you’re sitting on the couch. Sleep with a down feather comforter to stay nice and toasty.
•Cook food in the stove and oven to generate heat in the kitchen. Specifically, warm soup, spicy foods, and hot coffee and teas. Turn off all kitchen appliances when not in use. It’s dangerous to leave them on.
•Put down the beer. Alcohol cools your core temperature, even though sometimes it makes you feel warm. It also decreases your body’s ability to shiver and can cause you to sweat, which can have fatal effects on your body when you’re already freezing.
•Learn more about emergency power outage and what you can do if you’re in that situation.
•If you have time to really prepare your home for cold temperatures, learn more about low cost options you have to prepare to stay warm this winter.