It’s that time of the year again! Temperature is dropping, kids are back in school, and it seems like there’s never enough time to finish all the projects you had planned for the summer! Don’t let the stresses of the season get to you; check out these tips on ways to save money when Winter Prepping. We’ve separated the tips into helpful categories based on the amount of work and/or money required to implement them so there should be something for everyone and every budget!
- Easy and/or Low Cost Winter Prepping – Ideas in this category ideally only take a couple of minutes at most to perform and/or shouldn’t cost you anything at all!
- Change Fan Direction - Turn fans to the clockwise setting by flicking the control switch (usually located above the blades) to the correct position. A fan that is spinning clockwise will remove the warm air trapped against the ceiling, and circulate it throughout the room.
- Pay Attention to the Thermostat - Consider dropping the thermostat temperature by 10-15⁰ F when sleeping or leaving the house for extended periods of time. There may be some minor discomfort in waking up to a cold house every morning, but the savings are worth it. You’ll save an average of 3% on your electricity or gas bill per degree dropped!
- Open Blinds During the Day, and Close Them at Night - Even though we don’t receive as many of the sun’s rays in the winter, it is still possible to utilize the natural heat of the sun by opening the blinds or shutters of south facing windows in the day, then closing them at night to prevent heat loss.
- Watch that Fireplace - If you use an old-style fireplace, then keep the damper closed when a fire isn’t burning. Chimney flues act as a convenient exit path for hot air, and cause your heater work overtime to compensate for the loss!
(Fireplaces are a great way to keep warm, but keep the heat loss factor in mind.)
- Lower the Water Heater Temperature - Although most Americans enjoy a warm shower, you probably don’t need your water heater temperature as high as it is. Consider dropping it to around 120⁰ F, or whatever you find most comfortable.
- Winterize Your Lawn Care Equipment - You probably won’t be mowing your lawn during the winter, so make sure to take the necessary precautions when stowing your machine for the winter. eHow has a great guide on the subject. Follow it, and consider having the blades sharpened now to avoid the spring rush.
- Clean Gutters - If water is trapped in your gutters, then you run the risk of icicles forming. This not only damages the gutters, but can also make your paths dangerously icy. To prevent this, clean gutters of leaves and debris to ensure that water goes where it should.
- Flush out the Water Heater If your water heater is powered by oil or gas, then flush it out! There should be a drainage valve on the base of the heater, and flushing out sediment is a great way to increase water heater efficiency.
(A typical water heater with drain valve located in bottom center)
- Small Winter Prepping Projects – These are the projects that can be completed in an afternoon, and shouldn’t cost more than $100 each. The average homeowner should be able to complete these projects fairly easily, but you might want to contact a professional if additional information is needed.
- Seal Gaps - A simple caulk gun (About $5 at Zoro) and a couple of tubes of latex adhesive caulk (around $3 each) should be enough to seal any gaps caused by weathering on the sealant around doors and windows.
- Weatherproof Windows - Apply plastic shrink-wrap covers to any windows that you know won’t be opened during the winter months. Duck sells a high-quality, ten window kit for around $20 at Amazon
- Identify Problem Doors - If you are still feeling drafts when external doors aren’t dead bolted, try to find the brand and model of the door in question. More often than not, this is a problem due to a worn gasket. Replacing these can be a bit pricier depending on the type of door, but is necessary to prevent heat loss.
(An extreme example of exterior weathering)
- Replace Heater or Furnace Filters Once per Month - It’s cheap to do (around $5) and ensures that your system is working at peak performance, thus saving you money.
- Insulate Light Switches and Power Outlets - These are an often overlooked source of heat loss, and can be easily insulated by purchasing foam forms and placing them under the face-plates.
- Larger Winter Prepping Projects – These projects will take either a significant amount of time and/or a sizable initial investment, but have large payoffs in savings. Though the initial investment may seem steep, keep in mind that many renovations, particularly those concerning energy, are tax deductible.
- Purchase a Home Energy Audit From Your Power Company - An auditor will come to your house and determine the efficiency of your energy components, and sometimes water pipes. It costs around $150, but is a good tool in identifying problem areas.
- Invest in Heated Fans - If simply turning your fans to the clockwise setting doesn’t cut it, then consider switching to heated fans for draftier rooms. These fans cost about $220-$250 and have a heating element underneath the blades to circulate hot air throughout a room.
- Optimize Your Fireplace - A fireplace is a great way to stay warm in the winter, but uses a lot of heat! If you use your fireplace often enough, then consider installing tempered-glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow hot air back in the room.
- Schedule Maintenance - Think ahead, and schedule an annual maintenance for your heating and air system. It will set you back around $250, but will save a large amount of money in the long run by improving efficiency and identifying any problems before they are too bad.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat - A quality programmable thermostat can be bought for around $50, and allows you to set the thermostat low at night, then rise to its normal level before you awake. Though the purchase is cheap, the installation can end up looking a little messy unless you are have experience with installing wall fixtures.
(Old thermostats are non-programmable, and are inefficient)
Consider Replacing Insulation - Most modern fiberglass attic insulation is rated to last 100 years or “the life of the building.” However, if you have an old house that has poor or no attic insulation, then you should upgrade. It’s an expensive task, running an average of $1,500 for a 750 sq ft attic, but will save countless thousands of dollars over the life of your house.
(An old attic during the process of renovation)
We hope you have enjoyed our tips for saving money during the colder months. From the TitleQuest family to yours, we wish you a happy and stress free fall!
- www.bobvila.com Winterize Your Home on a Budget Author: Lisa Rojak (Article) Retrieved From: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/258-winterize-your-home-on-a-budget/#.ViZnUX6rTIU
- www.zillow.com How to Winterize Your Home on a Budget Author: Lisa Rojak (Blog Post Retrieved From: http://www.zillow.com/blog/how-to-winterize-your-home-on-a-budget-106966/
- www.energy.gov FALL AND WINTER ENERGY SAVING TIPS Author: Unlisted (Informative) Retrieved From: http://energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips
- www.simplehomerepairs.com Sealing the Deal for Energy Savings Author: Unlisted (Article) Retrieved From: http://www.simplehomerepairs.com/Weatherproofing.html