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Inexpensive Winterizing Tips!

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Inexpensive Winterizing Tips!

The cold weather has arrived, and as the mercury drops, energy prices rise. While it would be nice to replace all of those old doors and windows, and buy new energy-saving appliances, that kind of expense is not practical for everyone, even with tax credits from federal and state governments to subsidize energy-saving upgrades.

Luckily, you can reign in your winter energy spending with just a few simple, and inexpensive, tweaks to your home and habits.

Cut the Drafts
Allowing too much drafty air to enter is the number one mistake most homeowners make. What good does it do to warm things up inside if you just allow all of that heat to escape through cracks and crevices?

If you have older windows, make sure to reinstall your storm windows, if you have them, each year as the cooler weather descends. The extra layer of glass will help to keep drafts from entering your home.

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Whether you have storm doors and windows or not, weather stripping and caulking around your windows, doors, and other potential weak spots in your home is crucial, and costs very little in comparison to the money it will save you in the long run. Carefully inspect every area in your home where two different building materials meet — windows, doors, corners, chimneys — as well as areas where plumbing or wiring enter or exit. Seal off any visible gaps with caulk or weather stripping.

Purchase window insulation kit from your local hardware store. These sheets of clear plastic stick over your windows and shrink tight when heated with a hair dryer. The cold air stays trapped between the plastic and the window, instead of coming inside your home.

Even a simple item like a draft dodger, also known as a draft snake, can make a big difference. Those simple lengths of stuffed fabric that lay at the base of your doors cost only a few dollars, but can go a long way toward keeping the cold air out, and the warm air in.

Check Your Furnace
Just like your car needs a periodic tune-up to stay in good running condition, so does your furnace or boiler. Call your local HVAC contractor, preferably early in the season so you can avoid the rush, and schedule an appointment to have your furnace checked out and serviced, if necessary. Not only will this reduce your fuel usage, it will also cost a lot less than an emergency call for a furnace that’s quit working due to neglect.

Don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace. A dirty filter restricts airflow, reducing the efficiency of your unit. Write a reminder on your calendar to change this as often as your furnace’s manufacturer recommends.
Be sure to also seal off all of your furnace ducts, which can lose 20-30% of the heat you’re paying to produce, and keep them clean.

While all homes have some insulation, most older homes don’t have enough. Wherever possible, replace or reinforce the insulation in your home’s walls, attic, basement, etc.

It’s also a good idea to insulate your pipes, which will reduce the amount of money you spend on hot water. Most hardware stores sell very inexpensive pipe sleeves, which slip easily onto pipes with no fuss.

Other Helpful Tips
If you have ceiling fans in your home, turn them on, clockwise. Though fans are most often used to keep rooms cool in the summer by pulling hot air up and out, they can do just the opposite in the winter, pushing hot air from the ceiling back down into the room where it does the most good.

You can also save a lot of money by heating smarter. Keep your thermostat turned down at night and when you’re not home. For every degree you lower the thermostat, you can save between 1 and 3% on your heating bill. If you tend to be forgetful, you can purchase a programmable thermostat for as little as $50, recouping the cost within a single heating season.

Do you have other tips for saving money on winter heating? Share them below!

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1 Joanna Glade { 01.06.15 at 6:41 am }

I like to cook stews and soups on the stove or just have a pot of water going. It produces heat and steam; both are needed during winter months.

Windows have storm windows and plastic shrink wrap on them. I have the outlet insulators. Thermostat is reduced at night. I have a home made heating pad made of cracked corn that heats for 3 minutes in the microwave to warm my feet at night.

2 Lynn W. { 11.27.13 at 9:37 am }

In regards to TheMaineMan–When I boil water for pasta I am usually emptying the pot to drain the pasta but when boiling water for eggs I do let the water cool and though I didn’t let the water cool for releasing heat into the air I do let it cool and use the water to put on my plants providing a bit of calcium from the egg shells that were just boiled in the pan. In the future I will empty the boiling water from pasta into another pan to let cool and release heat into the air. Every little bit helps!

3 Debbie J { 11.23.13 at 9:11 am }

When preparing meals use your oven whenever possible. When your food is finished turn off the oven and open the door slightly. This will allow the heat to come into the room. Your oven takes a while to cool off, so take advantage of the heat it provides. If you open the door a small amount, the heat will last longer verses opening it all the way and letting all the heat out all at once. Another thing~~We have vented, natural gas logs in our fireplace. Since the logs themselves are exposed to the fire, they hold heat, After they heat up we turn off the natural gas and close the damper. The room is then flooded with warmth that otherwise goes up the chimney. The logs retain heat for quite sometime and the room is so cozy and warm for a few hours. We have a carbon monoxide detector and have not had any problems since the gas is not actually on when we close the damper. Be safe and stay warm!!

4 Diana { 11.22.13 at 12:30 am }

Don’t forget the plug-in’s on outside walls. I use the Duck Socket Sealers (Styrofoam insulators that fit behind switch plates and outlet covers; also child safety plugs to keep the cold air from seeping in thru the plug holes that aren’t occupied by light plugs and such, as the Winter blows. We also use the latex caulk ropes at the base and the middle of windows. It’s cut our gas bills a good $50 @ mth.

5 Mike Taylor { 11.21.13 at 6:24 pm }

Bubble wrap/Bubble Wrap and more……..across the glass before using film/ around air conditioner outside before placing a snug fitting cardboard carton over it then apply AC cover and this past winter discovered huge draft/gap BTW counter back and wall as this has huge window over the sink on an outside wall/ All sealed up now as well as BBL wrap over the storm door panels extending width beyond where screen/glass panels slide in/out or up/down in summer/ Use wide masking tape and come Spring/ remove any tape residue with rubbing alcohol or vegetable oil………

6 Mary { 11.20.13 at 8:12 pm }

Use a steam vaporizer to increase heating efficiency. The steam not only warms the room with a little humidity, but it’s healthy. Keep your membranes moist vs. drying heat. It’s also good for your hair, skin, electronics, reduces static, and even furniture (wood not dry out). It reduces sore throats, colds, etc.

Maintenance: Clean and fill the steam vaporizer according to manufacturer’s instructions.

7 bunny391 { 11.20.13 at 11:10 am }

Turn furnace fan onto continuous low speed.

8 TheMaineMan { 11.18.13 at 9:46 pm }

Another good one: open the blinds/curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to let sunlight in, and then shut the blinds/curtains at night to help insulate the windows. Letting the sun beat in actually makes quite a difference, and as you suggest a fan can help to spread this heat to the rest of the house.
Also, if you happen to boil water (like for pasta or something) save the water and let it cool by releasing the heat into the air, instead of warming up the drain/pipes.

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