With the winter season in full swing, there’s a few things that you can do now to lower your monthly heating bill. We all know that during this time, you’ll use much more heat to keep your home warm, whether it be gas, electric, or some other form of home heating.
These options are things that the average homeowner can basically do themselves, without hiring a service company to come out.
Caulk all windows and doors.
Many times, you’ll notice a draft coming from a window or door but won’t necessarily know where. I can tell you it is usually two places:
- from the window glass itself, or
- from where the window and wood trim meet.
The caulk is usually old and cracked and should be scraped out and replaced. If the caulk is fairly new, you may be able to simply cover the bead with another bead of caulk on top. Buy a high-quality caulk that will not crack; there are a few on the market.
The same thing with the doors — check the caulked areas first and determine what you’ll need. If you’re not good at caulking and feel you’ll make a mess, simply mask off the seam with blue painter’s tape to keep neat, clean caulked joints.
Purchase a small pack of nitrile gloves and have plenty of paper towel on hand to wipe your finger after smoothing the caulked joints.
Seal home penetrations and gaps with spray foam.
I’m a big fan of spray foam. The cans of instant insulation work wonders for small and large gaps around plumbing or gas pipes. If you have a basement, start your search for cracks there. You may notice little, small gaps around these areas.
Make sure you wear hand and eye protection when using any kind of spray foam. The stuff is crazy hard to get off your skin once it’s there!
You can choose from several different kinds of spray foam:
- Pest block — for rodents and other pests,
- Large gap filler — for holes larger than 1 inch,
- Window and door filler — won’t bow out make them hard to close,
- Standard spray foam — for most penetrations into a building,
- Fireblock spray foam — for holes between floors, etc.
Add plastic weatherstripping to your windows.
I recommend adding plastic to your windows, in addition to caulking them. Heat loss can be really high if you have older, inefficient windows. It’s really simple to install. All you’ll need is a hair dryer, scissors, and a tape measure.
One manufacturer says you can save up to 35% of heat loss. I like this option because you put double-sided tape around the window, then press the plastic on to the tape, then use the hair dryer to further shrink the plastic, giving you a crystal-clear view again.
Add weatherstripping to the bottom of entrance doors.
You may need a cordless drill and proper drill bits to do this one. Most drafts that are from doors usually originate at the bottom. Inspect the lower part of an entrance door. If the weatherstripping is missing or torn, it should be replaced.
Measure the width of the exterior door (they are usually 36 inches wide) and find a decent replacement. Most door weatherstripping is held in place with small screws. You’ll probably need to trim the plastic piece you purchase with a utility knife, so be prepared for that.
Other things you can do (hire a pro)
Have a programmable thermostat installed.
A programmable thermostat should be installed by a knowledgeable person; most homeowners may find tackling this installation a little difficult.
With that said, you can fine-tune the thermostat to your family’s needs. You can set it to kick on shortly before wake up, giving you much need warmth on a cold December morning. Or, you can make it lower the heat when you are off at work.
I like to set my thermostat on a lower temp in the night while sleeping. It really depends on your comfort level. As you get used to the thermostat, you can make minor adjustments to the “set” temperatures as the winter progresses, really tuning it in to your personal demands.
Make sure there’s adequate insulation in the attic.
Look at the snow on people’s roofs in your neighborhood. Do you notice any spots, like near a chimney where the snow is melted? Or what about large, numerous icicles hanging from their gutters?
That’s heat loss that has occurs because of inadequate insulation. Use a flashlight and inspect your attic. If there isn’t enough insulation, you’ll also notice these symtoms on your own home. you probably will need to hire a company to come out and install insulation.
Blown-in insulation offers the most value, because you won’t have a tradesman fumbling around in the attic for long; they will usually blow the insulation in from a close distance to the attic’s entrance, saving the homeowner some cost. The job is fairly straight-forward and can be done in just a few hours.
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