Winter is just around the corner and if you’re like many others, the high cost of heating your home is not something you are looking forward to. With these simple tips, you can prepare your home inexpensively and with little effort.
1. Change your furnace’s filters. Depending upon the brand and type that you use, you can change your furnace and cold air-return filters for as little as $1 each. When filters get clogged with dust and dirt, your furnace has to work harder to cycle the air it heats. If you do not know what type of filters to purchase, place a call to any heating and cooling service company and ask. There are plenty of helpful services out there who are more than happy to answer your questions.
2. Check the home’s insulation – If you own a home that has a crawl-space, remove the door on the space and use a flashlight to check the insulation under your floors. If any insulation has fallen you may need to crawl under your home and replace the insulation clips. These clips can be purchased in most hardware stores for as little as $0.39 each. They should be placed approximately every 18 – 24 inches. You may even find the ones that have fallen and if they are not broken, they can certainly be reused.
3. Check for large holes in your foundation – Your foundation needs a small vent hole to help keep moisture at bay, but normally, only one such vent is necessary. If your foundation has cracks from age or where perhaps small animals have dug around your foundation, fill in the cracks with either concrete patch or outdoor caulk that will adhere to rock or concrete. If you are in doubt about your venting needs or the best way to patch up foundation cracks for your specific type of foundation materials, call a contractor that deals in concrete and foundations and ask them to provide a free estimate. When your contractor arrives, ask a lot of questions and pay close attention. What a contractor may charge you large amounts of your hard-earned money for, you could do on your own at just a fraction of the cost.
4. Check around your windows for air movement – One of the two biggest ways to lose heat is around your home’s windows. From the inside of your home, use a small piece of thin ribbon approximately 2 inches in length that has been stapled or taped to a 2″ x 2″ piece of cardboard. Place the cardboard flat against the window frame allowing the ribbon to hang down in front of where your window frame meets your interior wall. Move the cardboard down the frame a little at a time and check for either a blowing out or sucking in of the ribbon. If the ribbon is moving, you have air leaks around your window. Paintable caulk or clear caulk is a wonderful way to fix the problem. (Hint: clear caulk appears white when it is first used and may take up to three or four days to turn completely clear)
5. Check around your doors for air movement – The other biggest way to lose heat is around your doors. Perform the same action as mentioned above in number 4 to check for air leaks. There are several ways to control the loss of heat around your door. For as little as $2 per 25′ roll, you can purchase weatherstrip for your door. Before anything else, cut a small three small pieces of the weatherstrip material approximately 1″ long. Remove the paper backing and adhere one small piece of the material to each side of your door your door frame and one on the top. Try closing your door securely. If the fit is too tight, remove the strips and do not proceed. If your door closes without any hendrance, move on to the next step. Measure and cut the strip to fit around the top and sides of your door. Remove the adhesive backing and adhere the strip to the frame of the door. If you were not able to use the weatherstipping due to it not allowing your door to close properly, there are other alternatives to make an air tight seal around your door. Please see the note at the bottom of this article on how to make a seal-sock for your door.
6. Cover your windows – Weather kits for your windows are a great way to stop the loss of air. Kits can be picked up at your local hardware store for as little as $3. Follow the instructions to cover your windows with the clear plastic material. For those of you that prefer not to use the semi-opaque material not allowing you to clearly see out of your windows, heavy curtains are a great way to stop airflow. Although curtains can be quite expensive, sofa throws are a great and much less expensive alternative. Discount stores often carry these sofa throws for as little as $3 – $5 each. This also allows you to pull them back and let the sunshine in. Letting the sun in on winter days can raise the temperature of your home by as much as 7 – 10 degrees, but make sure to pull those shades as the sun moves around the house as when the sun goes down or moves through the sky past your window, the temperature quickly drops.
7. Check the baseboard areas of your home – If your home has baseboards, they can be an area where cold air is getting in. For baseboards that do not meet the floor completely, clear caulk can be a great way to close up those leaks. If you are not so worried about the asthetics of the baseboards, the same weatherstripping that I mentioned earlier can be placed in the area between the bottom of the baseboard and your floor.
8. Use those ceiling fans – Ceiling fans are for more than just cooling your home in the summer; they can be used as an air circulation tool in the winter. Check the direction that your fan is blowing. There is a switch located on the side of the motor housing that has an arrow either on the switch or beside it on the housing itself. Make sure the switch is set so that the air is blowing down. As heat rises, the fan, set on low, will help to push that warm air back down to the space that you occupy.
Implement these tips and you will reduce your heating costs this winter. For more information on reducing heating and cooling costs of your home visit www.energystar.org.