The Starks are always right eventually – Winter is Coming. With it also arrives colder weather and higher energy costs. To save time and money before the frigid weather, now is the time to do some maintenance around the home to help prepare for the coming winter months. Here are ten tips & tricks to help you stay warm and cut energy costs this season:
Fill Holes in Exterior Walls
When electrical cables, pipes, and gas lines are installed to enter your home, there are often gaps around them. These gaps will have been filled with a type of caulk to insulate and remove airflow. The caulk surrounding these cables and pipes will begin to degrade after a while, allowing outside air to enter your home as well as other foreign pathogens. Seal gaps around your home will expanding foam. For water pipes under the sink, try unscsrewing the escutcheon ring, and then caulk around the pipe. This should greatly improve your home’s insulation.
Eliminate Drafts Around Electrical Outlets
Electrical boxes throughout your home are known particularly drafty – especially outlets located in exterior walls. This is because insulation often isn’t placed behind and around them properly when they are installed. Improper insulation allows air to flow around and through the electrical box. Stop air leaks in your home by filling gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. For larger gaps, use foam sealant. Place a foam gasket covering over the outlet before you replace the cover plate. The gaskets are cheap and will last a very long time. This is a small monetary and time investment that will save you money for as long as you own the home.
Replace Old Weatherstripping
Worn weatherstripping around your doors and windows can create drafts, allowing cold air to enter your home. A large portion of a home’s heat loss is lost around windows and doors. This makes homeowners want to turn up their furnace to compensate. Weatherstripping around doors and windows helps cut down on warm air loss. Replacing it is quick and easy. To remove old, worn weather stripping, simply pull it out from the frame. Then, cut your new piece to match the length of your door, and insert it into the groove. Older doors can be retrofit by using rolls of self-adhesive foam weather stripping or rigid strips nailed into place.
Adjust Door Thresholds
Look at your door. If you can see light seeping in from underneath, that means air can exit through that opening. Keep precious warm air locked in your home by making sure your door thresholds are properly adjusted. Some thresholds come equipped with screws that let you adjust their height. Turn these screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until most of the light is gone. You do not want to have the threshold high enough to where the door will drag across the threshold or it will damage the weatherstripping. A little light around the corners of the door frame are okay.
Cover Windows and Patio Doors with Plastic Film
Heat loss attributed to windows accounts for about a quarter of all total heat loss in homes. Combat the temperature drop by all windows and glass doors with clear plastic film. This will help keep warm air in and cold air out. The plastic film is cheap and can be found in large quantities at home supply centers. It’s easy to apply, easy to remove, and barely noticeable.
Insulate the Attic Access Door
An often overlooked area for air excursion is the attic access door. Improperly insulated, an attic hatch will let warm air to escape into an attic. Make sure that the opening is not obstructed and that the door will lie flat. A good seal is critical to efficient insulation. Use a latch bolt system to make sure the door closes tight. You can also attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door using adhesive. This ensures that the door will effectively blow airflow between floors.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats have become more affordable now than ever before. These help save you money by letting you program your home’s temperature throughout the day – even when nobody is home. Set your temperature to low during the day when no one is home and set it to warm up a little before you return home. This can help you salve nearly 10% on yearly energy expenses. Now you will never forget to adjust the thermostat!
Invest in a Space Heater
If you live in a smaller home or apartment, using a space heater could help you save big time this winter. Using a space heater allows the rest of your home to remain cool as you stay warm in a single room. Now you can turn down the furnace and start saving on energy costs. According to utility company Pepco, you can save 3 percent on heating costs for every degree below 70 F that you set on your furnace.
Keep Warm Air from Going Up the Chimney
An unused fireplace allows warm indoor air to exit a home via the chimney. Even if the chimney flue is closed, warm air can still escape. The solution to this problem is an inflatable chimney balloon. Sound absurd? These balloons that can be found on Amazon for around $50 can save you up to $100 a year in energy costs. Simply blow up the balloon and stick in in the chimney. If you forget to remove it from the chimney before you start a fire, the balloon will automatically deflate and your house won’t fill with smoke.
Change Your Furnace Filter
A clogged air filter impedes air flow throughout the HVAC system, forcing more energy to be used to run the furnace system. This can cause your monthly energy bill to skyrocket. Using a clean air filter by changing your furnace filter every 3-4 months can save you upwards of 15 percent on utility costs!