How to Winterize Your Home

The biggest mistake people can make is prepping their home for winter too late in the game. That’s why I’m sitting at my computer on a sunny, fall day where winter feels months and months away writing about winterizing your home. Because, unfortunately, snow and ice are on the way and will be here faster than you can say “Christmas.” Here’s how how you can start prepping now:

1. Clean your gutters.

Unless you’re looking for ice dams and icicles hanging from your roof, you must make sure water can flow freely through your gutters ASAP. I know this job isn’t fun or easy, but other than sweat and maybe tears — it’s free and will be a HUGE help to you.

2. Flush the water heater.

Particles and sediment can collect at the bottom of your water heater which will, of course, hinder it’s efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out any lingering material and your heater will be functioning at it’s best. Again, you’re looking at a cost of nothing, so there’s no reason not to knock it off that to-do list ASAP.

3. Clock-wise (a.k.a. reverse) moving fans.

Here’s a sneaky (and free) trick if you have a fan. Hot air rises, which means if your fan is moving clockwise, it will help circulate the hot air along the ceiling and to the bottom of the floor. If they’re going counter clockwise, they won’t be as effective.

4. Replace Filters

Taking care of your central air and heating system by staying on top of when they need filter changes can significantly improve their efficiency and longevity. New filters cost about $10, whereas new air systems cost a lot more.

5. Weatherstrip Tape

Because drafts and air leaks increase heating costs, you can also invest in weatherstrip tape to make sure your windows and doors are sealed tightly. It’s easy to install and costs about $5 – $10 per roll.

6. Draft Guards

Draft guards will also help with the leaking of hot air and therefore the saving of hot air cost. They’re not very pretty, but they do work. You can snag one for $10 – $15.

7. Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats make it possible to pre-program your temperature for when you’re not at home or when you’re sleeping and warm under the covers. You can save as much as 1% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature (according to The US Department of Energy). By installing a programmable thermostat you can make decisions that will still keep you comfortable but will also save you money. A quick browse through homedepot.com showed programmable thermostats from $20 – over $100 depending on various added features.

8. Caulk It

Any gaps in windows, doors or siding can be filled with caulk. For windows and doors with extra draft, caulk the outside and the inside. To be extra thorough, pull off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. A basic caulk gun costs $20, and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk.

9. Chimney Balloon

For all chimney owners, invest in a chimney balloon! When your chimney is not in use, your chimney balloon will save so much money when it comes to heat conservation. It will keep drafts out and heat in, keeping you warm and your heating bill manageable. Chimney balloons cost about $55.

10. Turn Down Your Water Heater

Many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that much steam, but are paying for it nonetheless. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F will reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%. Or if you’re wondering whether or not you need a tank at all, you can consider a tankless water heater, or go solar. You can take advantage of the federal tax credit, which pays 30% of the cost for solar water heaters, or up to $1,500 for conventional systems.

11. Start prepping your home now. The longer you wait, the less you’ll get done and the less you’ll save come winter.

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