Preparing your home for winter's chill

Winterize Your Home for Savings

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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Not looking forward to the colder months ahead? Neither is your wallet. Winter's chill can freeze your finances, too, when it comes to heating your home. But preparing your house for the season can help lower costs. Here's how:

  • Insufficient insulation costs the owners of many older homes substantial money each year. Consider investing in insulation as a long-term boost to your winter savings and personal comfort. Even if you decide to sell your home later, having it fully insulated still adds to its value.
  • If you're residing or remodeling the interior of your home, have insulating material such as Celotex™ used underneath to provide an extra layer.
  • Replace old, energy-wasting windows and exterior doors with modern ones. If you can't afford to do the whole house at once, start in the rooms you use the most so they'll keep warmer and you will feel lest tempted to crank up the thermostat.
  • Caulk around openings for pipes or cables and replace weather stripping around doors and windows. Especially examine attic and basement windows, which tend to go unnoticed. Install electrical outlet insulators behind outlets on your home's outer walls so heat doesn't seep out around them.
  • If you have any window air conditioners that are permanently installed, cover them from the outside and seal them off inside. Don't forget to lower the storm windows in every window in the house.
  • Close the doors to rooms you don't use or seldom visit, such as a spare bedroom. By doing this, you won't waste energy heating space that no one frequents.
  • Seal off seldom-used exterior doors with plastic to hold in the heat. Many hardware stores sell kits for this purpose. For frequently used doors, purchase or sew a "draft dodger," a stuffed fabric tube that is as wide as the door, and place it at the bottom of the door. Or, as a more permanent repair, replace the sill with a good-fitting one.
  • Make sure your furnace runs as efficiently as it can. If you have one, replace your furnace filter and follow your manufacturer recommendations for servicing the equipment. Have your heating ducts cleaned so that nothing is blocking the heat from circulating. Service any fireplaces or woodstoves so that they can supplement your heat. Every year, make sure the flue, chimney and/or stovepipe is clean and free of cracks.
  • Related: How to Prepare Your Furnace for Winter

  • Consider the option of installing solar panels to harness the warmth of the sun.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night and use an electric blanket, flannel sheets and warm pajamas. Carpeted bedrooms (either wall-to-wall or area rugs) also help ward off the chill in the morning.
  • Should I use a HELOC for home remodeling and repairs?

  • During the day, make sure all the blinds are open to let the sun help heat your home. Consider switching from heavy, drapes to thinner curtains to let the sun shine in.
  • Avoid planting non-deciduous trees near your home if they could grow tall enough to provide wintertime shade; instead, choose leafy trees for shade in summer and no shade in the winter. The more wintertime sun you can get, the better.

Although you can't avoid winter, you can forgo some of its expenses by helping your home retain heat and keep out the cold.

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