We are all aware that cold weather is on the way and with that always comes a new worry, especially in the tough economic times that many are suffering now, heating costs. Everyone wants to do as much as they can to lower the heat bill without completely freezing to death inside their own home. There are ways to make sure that your home is as weather ready as it can be.
Think of the things that need fixing before the weather turns really cold or you will have already lost money as soon as it gets cold. One of the first things that anyone should do is to check for under-the-door drafts and clogged gutters. The best place to save money is to avoid heat loss, which is usually from a draft or air leak. One of the most common places that heat loss occurs is in the attic. It is recommended at our local hardware store that your attic be insulated to an R-60 factor, which is about 18 inches of insulation. Other fairly common causes of heat loss are pull-down type attic steps, electrical outlets and light switches, door and window cracks, and loose fireplace dampers. Most of these problems can be fixed with caulking and insulation. Another plus to these types of problems is that these can usually be fixed without the help and cost of a professional.
Another great cost-cutting item is a programmable thermostat. This item will reduce your heat bill by approximately 20 percent in most cases. You can have the heat lower when no one will be home, but make sure that by the time you arrive home the house is back to a comfortable temperature. There are many styles and brands available at local hardware stores.
There are several ways to check for drafts but one of the easiest tests can be done by placing a sheet of notebook paper in the pathway of an open door. Shut the door and see if you are able to pull the sheet of paper out of the doorway without ripping it. If you can, there is a good chance that you have a draft problem. If you can’t, it is safe to assume that your home is fairly draft free in that area.
Check around windows for drafts too. Many homes loose heat near the windows as they aren’t sealed properly. It might be a good idea to have new windows put in when you can afford it, if you live in an older home. Some older homes do not have the double or triple pane windows that are now available and will allow a large amount of heat to be lost through the actual glass in the window.
A few other ways of cutting utilities bills is to look into energy saving appliances, and ways of water conservation. Look for items like high efficiency heat pumps or gas heaters, a tank less water heater, water-saving faucets and showerheads, high efficiency toilets, and other high efficiency appliances for the kitchen or laundry room. All of these items will help to lower your power bill and possibly the heat bill as well.
There is no reason that home owners need to feel that they have to endure the cold when there are things that they can do to make their home warmer and more efficient. However, many people start too late in the season to really save money for that time. Grab a caulk gun and get busy filling in those spots where you feel you are losing the most heat- your wallet will thank you!