By Patricia L. Garcia
Old Man Winter is starting to settle in nicely across the country. And, if you’re settling in nicely into your new home, you’re staying comfortable with an airtight envelope keeping your family and friends warm and saving you on energy costs.
But, if you live in an older home, you might be doing your best to save on energy costs and stay warm. You don’t have to compromise with these easy tips on how to winterize your home for maximum comfort and energy savings:
According to national home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of nationally syndicated TV and radio program, “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford,” (todayshomeowner.com) winterizing your home is very DIY-friendly and cost effective. Making such improvements to your home can save as much as 30 percent on heating costs.
For example, Lipford says the average cost to winterize your home can be around $150, with just the following improvements (this price and the ones listed below, of course, depend on how much work your home needs):
- Installing outlet gasket covers: $15 (depending on how many outlets you have),
- caulking where needed: $20,
- weather stripping: $20,
- attic stairs cover: $40, and
- pipe insulation: $55.
Closing the Gaps
“One of the main things you can do to winterize your home is to protect the warm air in your home by really tightening up the exterior,” Lipford says. “Almost all homes have some measure of cold air infiltration, so what I always recommend is to take a really slow walk around the outside of the home, because even a small crack around the home can rob you of lots of dollars.”
Should you find any cracks, you can caulk them. What’s better, Lipford says, is the fact that caulk now is available in a variety of colors and can match your home’s exterior paint.
To help prevent leakage of warm air to the outdoors, be sure to check that your doors are properly weather stripped. To check, have one person stand outside the door at night with a flashlight. Have them shine the light against the perimeter of the door while you or another person stands on the other side. If you can see the light, it’s time to apply new weather stripping.
You may not realize it, but cold air can enter your home through your electrical outlets. Behind each outlet cover is just a big, gaping hole, so to help prevent that air from coming inside, use foam pads behind the plate cover. Doing so can make a big difference in how warm and cool your home is, says Lipford.
While replacing old, single-pane (or just plain old) windows is the best solution, it just might not be in the budget. The next best thing, Lipford says, is to use a window roll kit. Such a kit is easy to install and can help to temporarily seal up any drafts going into the home from old windows.
Also, if needed, replace or apply weather stripping to windows to help prevent air leakage.
So, your heating system is working just fine. What’s the problem then? To get the most out of your heating system, it’s important to keep it maintained. “One thing that people neglect is to service their heating system by a professional to have it cleaned and calibrated,” Lipford says. “First of all, you’re saving money because the unit is so servicing the unit helps it to work more efficiently. Long-term, it’s going to last longer.”
Another way to save on energy costs and keep your home comfortable is to invest in a programmable thermostat. Today’s new generation thermostats – smart thermostats – are programmable via an app on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
And, don’t forget to change the air filter in your home regularly. Using an electric static-type filter is the best option, Lipford says,
If You Have an Attic
If you have an attic and a scuttle door to access it, use an attic stairway cover. These covers are “easy to install, traps this cushion of air to keep air from moving into cold attic and is a very simple thing to do that’s cost effective,” says Lipford.
If you have exposed pipes, you can wrap them with foam covering to keep pipes from bursting and to help heat water more efficiently.
While each of these strategies seems like a small thing, all of these things combined will help you keep the cold air out of your home and keep the warm air – and your dollars – in your home this winter and beyond.