With temperatures lowering and the winter right around the corner, it’s not too early to start preparing your home for the cold. The cost of heating your home is always more expensive in the winter months, so winterizing your home and keeping in the heat you’ve already produced is an effective way to control your heating bill during the cold season.
You can do this yourself, or hire somebody to do it for you. In this post, we discuss the best tips we found online for winterizing your home, and ultimately saving on your heating bill.
Tips at a Glance
- Improving your insulation
- Buy a programmable thermostat
- Caulk your windows
- Seal up your fireplace
- Consider double-paned windows
- Using draft guards
- Replace the filters for your heating system
- Take care of any trees/shrubs rubbing against your home
- Do an energy audit yourself, or hire a professional
- Winterize your plumbing
- Seal your electrical outlets
- Consider an insulated garage door
- Replace your furnace
- Reverse your ceiling fan
- Apply window film
- Clean your rain gutters
- Consider installing an emergency release valve
- Add weather stripping
- Adjust your water heater
- Hire a professional to winterize your home
Winterizing Your Home Tips Explained
1) Improving your insulation. Improving your pre-existing home insulation is probably the most common start to winterizing your home, but because it seems so obvious, it is often overlooked. You can insulate crawl spaces, your attic, or any other spaces where walls are exposed and heat is able to escape. If you are worried about the type of material your insulation consists of and how it will affect the environment, there are many eco-friendly alternatives that you can use in your home.
2) Buy a programmable thermostat. Buying a programmable thermostat is a great way to save on energy costs. New “smart thermostats” can monitor your family’s living habits and adjust accordingly, making it cooler when you are not home and warmer when you are. If you want a less costly option to smart thermostats, there are many programmable thermostats that are cheaper, you’ll just have to program the times yourself.
3) Caulk your windows. Creating an energy efficient seal to your current windows will save your energy bill, and keep those cool drafts from occurring in your home. Caulking should be inspected every year before winter, as it tends to deteriorate. Be sure to check your outside caulking as often as your inside.
4) Seal up your fireplace. If your home has a fireplace, it will (hopefully) be the largest exposure to air. Using a fireplace balloon to seal the top normally does the trick, but you should also consider sealing up the inside of the fireplace as well.
5) Consider double-paned windows. While caulking helps insulate the seals around your windows, the cold your windows bring in from just having contact from the outside can make your home cooler. Double- (or even triple) paned windows can have a significant impact on your home’s heating efficiency.
6) Using draft guards. Using draft guards can keep unwanted wind from getting beneath your doors, and valuable heat from escaping. Despite being most commonly used on the doors that are a gateway from inside to outside, draft guards can be used on any door of your home to help contain unwanted air flow. Draft guards are cheap (usually around ten dollars), and are surprisingly effective for the cost.
7) Replace the filters for your heating system. Replacing clogged air filters can allow the heat to flow through more freely, and heat your house more effectively. Regularly check your air filters, and clean them up when necessary. If they are beyond cleaning, you can buy air filters for less than ten dollars at your local home-needs store. Replacing these filters can also increase the longevity of your heating system.
8) Take care of any trees/shrubs rubbing against your home. Trees and shrubbery rubbing against your home can create hot spots, and ruin the preparation you’ve already worked on. Trim your hedges, and cut any branches that could become a problem in the winter months.
9) Do an energy audit yourself, or hire a professional. An energy audit is a great way to make sure you you haven’t skipped over any of the small details. Make a list of things to check, and possible repairs you could be making. You’ll want to keep track of your average energy output, and look for any trends that could mean something is not as it should be. If you have the money to do it, hiring a professional is most likely your best option. Professionals can give you ideas that you didn’t even know existed based on their years of experience in the field.
10) Winterize your plumbing. This task is its own separate checklist, and you may want to consider hiring a professional. Here are some helpful tips if you plan on doing this yourself:
- Insulate your pipes. Measure your pipes, and wrap them in insulation tubing. Your local home repair store should be able to give you good recommendations for the tubing.
- Open your cabinets. The pipes under your sink could use a little exterior heat, and opening the cabinets can help the pipes from freezing.
- Drain all water pipes connecting to outside your home. Outside pipes are extremely susceptible to freezing, so be sure to drain them. You should also disconnect and drain any hoses leading to these pipes.
- Keep a faucet dripping. Obviously you don’t want to jack up your water bill, so don’t overdo it. Keeping a faucet with a small drip will barely add to your water bill, and will keep water flowing through your pipes. The water flow will make it more difficult for pipes to freeze.
- Keep the heat on, even on vacation. While you may be tempted to turn your heat completely off when you leave your home for an extended period of time, you should leave it at a low temperature instead. Keeping your home at fifty degrees (or around there) will keep your heating costs extremely low, and still prevent your pipes from freezing.
11) Seal your electrical outlets. This is a small task, but multiple small tasks turn into big savings. Make sure you have your electrical outlets sealed, and no air can escape. You can do this with caulking, but regular spackling should do the trick.
12) Consider an insulated garage door. A ton of heat can escape through your garage, so insulating the main escape point can make a big difference. You can add your own insulation to the garage door, or buy a pre-insulated door. Not to mention, it’s an insulated garage is a great selling point when it comes time to sell your home!
13) Replace your furnace. Without sugar-coating it, this is a costly measure. Furnaces are expensive, but you should consider updating your furnace for long-term savings. New furnaces are energy efficient with better output, so making an investment now could pay off in the future. If you have the money to buy a new furnace, you should seriously evaluate your current unit and decide if it is the right time to make a switch.
14) Reverse your ceiling fan. When you think of ceiling fans, most people think of keeping the house cooler. Reversing your ceiling fan to spin clockwise (instead of the standard counter-clockwise) pushes the warmer air that is trapped at the top of the room throughout the house. This is a simple step that won’t save you a ton of money, but it is still worth a try.
15) Apply window film. If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for new windows, window film is a great, cheaper alternative. This film deflects heat back into your home, and cost about one third the cost of new windows. You can easily apply this to your windows on your own, just be sure to check with your local home store for recommendations.
16) Clean your rain gutters. Not only does this make your house look better, this can help prevent ice from forming on top of your roof. The faster water can flow through your gutters, the less likely ice will form. Consider leaf guards for your gutters, so you don’t have to clean them as often.
17) Consider installing an emergency release valve. An emergency release pressure valve is a great fail safe for your pipes. If your pipes freeze, the emergency release can take pressure away that is caused by freezing, making it less likely that your pipes will burst.
18) Add weather stripping. This is another added measure to really seal up your doors, and allow less drafts in the house. This is a cheap add on, usually only costing you about twenty dollars. Not only will this save on your heating bill, but it will prevent less bugs from invading your home.
19) Adjust your water heater. Turning down your water heater, even just ten degrees or so, can save you a significant amount of money over time.Your water heater should have a thermostat, and setting it around 120 degrees will keep your water at a comfortable temperature. You should also consider insulating your water heater so less heat escapes from it.
20) Hire a professional to winterize your home. If you have the money, hiring a professional is never a bad route to take. Many home repair services specialize in winterizing, and know the small tricks to implement when winterizing a home. If you feel overwhelmed about the repairs you have to make before winter, hire some help, or sell your home!