Winter is just around the corner, and for homeowners dropping temperatures can often mean higher heating costs. What’s worse, failure to prepare for wetter months can leave you stuck with costly repairs just in time for the holiday season. Don’t leave your home out in the cold by following these quick and inexpensive tips for getting your digs winter ready.
- Reverse ceiling fans.
We’re all familiar with the concept of hot air rising, but did you know your ceiling fan was equipped with a switch to reverse the direction it rotates? Stop heating space you don’t used by setting your fan to spin in a clockwise direction. When the switch is flipped, the spinning blades create an updraft to push all that unused hot air downward. Saving money on heating costs can be as easy as the flip of a switch, especially in homes with higher ceilings.
- Install a door sweep.
Stop chilly drafts from creeping in under exterior doors by installing a door sweep. At around $5-$30, door sweeps are flexible pieces of plastic that attach to the bottom edge of any door to plug any air leaks between door and the frame.
- Caulk around windows and doors.
Speaking of unwelcome air finding its way in, any gap larger than the width of the nickel is cause for concern and should be filled in with caulk. Inspect siding, window and door frames, as well as window/door joints for problem areas, and be sure to use silicone caulk for exterior leaks, as it doesn’t shrink and warp in harsh elements.
- Close the damper.
Nothing warms up a winter night quite like a fire crackling in the fireplace, but one the flame is extinguished, hot and cold air can flow freely through the chimney opening. Get in the habit of closing the flue after every fire to keep cold air out and hot air in.
- Set the thermostat and leave it.
Constantly adjusting the thermostat can wreak havoc on a heating bill. Consider setting one daytime temperature and one night time temperature in your home, and otherwise leaving the thermostat alone. A cozy pair of socks can go a long way if you’re feeling chilly, and your wallet won’t take a hit for constantly changing temps.
- Service your furnace.
Depending on the age of your unit, you should be treating your furnace to a professional service every one to two years. Between visits, up your furnace’s efficiency by replacing filters every one to three months. Filters only range from $1-$25 each, so if you can no longer see through the old one when held to the light, it’s time to replace!
- Clean the gutters.
Prepare for heavy precipitation by clearing gutters of leaves and other debris. Without clear gutters, water can get backed up against the house and cause significant damage to roofing, wood and siding. Considering getting your hands dirty to cut costs, or hire a professional service for $70-$200, depending on the size of your home.
- Lower the hot water temperature.
Lowering your water heater’s temperature just 20 degrees — from the typical 140 degrees to 120 — can lead to energy savings, while still leaving plenty of hot water to go around. Wrapping a blanket or another form of DIY isolation around the heater tank can also help with efficiently heating your water supply.