7 Affordable Projects to Keep You Warmer (and Save Money) This Winter
Weatherizing your home means keeping the cold weather outside by doing things like plugging cracks where drafts get in and insulating to protect against the elements. It’s also a great way to cut down your energy bills.
A good place to start is checking on the small gaps and crevices throughout the house, especially along doors and windowsills. When added together, tiny gaps are sometimes like having a hole in the exterior wall, which can affect your heating bill.
To track down where those pesky cracks are located, you can take a lit incense stick — preferably during a windy day — and place it next to areas where cold may seep in. These areas include windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, and attic hatches. If the smoke from the incense stick blows away from these cracks, it most likely indicates a leak.
Also, these seven inexpensive winterizing projects could help lower your heating costs significantly this winter. They can even be completed in a single weekend. Need help? Many home improvement stores offer in-store workshops and have online videos to get you started.
1. Plug Small Leaks
Caulk can be used to place a flexible seal around cracks or joints (less than 1/4-inch wide). Cracks found by windows and door frames, plumbing fixtures and pipes, and even ceiling fixtures can be patched up with a caulk gun.
Weather stripping or a window film kit can be used around movable joints, especially windows and doors, often completely eliminating drafts.
2. Change Your Furnace Filters Regularly
During the cold months when the heater is constantly in use, furnace filters can get dirty faster, restricting airflow and increasing energy demand in the process. Check and replace them as needed. And consider using pleated filters since their large surface area can capture more air particulates.
And there’s a bonus benefit — cleaner, healthier air circulating in your home.
3. Add Insulation Behind Outside Wall Receptacles and Electrical Devices
Kits are available with insulated foam forms that replicate your outlet receptacle shapes. By removing the plate and adding the foam insulation behind each one, you can prevent heat loss through the outlet and switch covers.
There’s no real electrical work involved. Just take the screws off the plates to remove them. Put an insulation strip behind the plates and screw them back into the wall to properly seal them from the cold.
4. Insulate Your Pipes
If you have a basement or an older home with water pipes on the exterior walls, insulating those pipes can prevent the water flowing through from freezing and bursting the pipe — which could lead to structural damage and a hefty repair bill.
Foam pipe insulation looks like a giant straw with a slit down the length so you can wrap it around the pipe. It’s an easy project that can also reduce the noise of the water running through the pipes.
5. Disconnect Hoses and Cover Water Spigots
If the winter regularly brings freezing cold to where you live, consider using insulated bonnets to cover outdoor water spigots. This fast and inexpensive step can help prevent the freezing and cracking of your spigot and the pipe leading to it.
6. Install Plastic Window Treatments and Consider Storm Doors or Windows
Replacing windows with double pane vinyl windows can cost a lot of money up front, but help to reduce energy usage during colder months. A cheaper alternative is to cover single-pane windows with a window kit or use weather stripping to seal them, improving the energy efficiency of that opening significantly.
Storm doors and windows can also increase energy efficiency by sealing drafts and reducing air flow, but may require professional installation.
7. Boost Attic and Basement Insulation
To make sure you have an energy-efficient home, grab a ruler and climb up into the attic to check insulation depth, including the hatch door. Also, venture downstairs to measure the insulation in the basement ceiling. There should be at least 11 inches of fiberglass or rock wool insulation, or 8 inches of cellulose insulation. Adding insulation to keep warm air from escaping makes sense whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.