Winterizing Our Homes

Now is the time to prepare our homes for another cold winter. While we can spend thousands of dollars by upgrading furnaces, adding insulation and replacing old windows, significant savings can be achieved by relatively easy and inexpensive actions.

Reduce drafts: According to the U. S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste up to 30% of our heating energy. Check under doors and around windows for gaps and seal out the cold air. Cost: Caulking and expanding foam for larger gaps usually costs approximately $5.00 per tube or can.

Replace furnace filters: Dirty filters can restrict air flow and cause your furnace to operate less efficiently. Cost: Filters cost approximately $10 and up, but permanent filters never need to be replaced.

Operate ceiling fans properly: Many ceiling fans have a switch that can change the direction of the air flow. If the fan can push warm air downward, the room can feel more comfortable. Cost for switching the airflow: $0.00.

Reduce the temperature of your water heater: This action will save money during all seasons. A maximum temperature of 120 degrees is usually adequate for all cleaning and washing. Cost: $0.00.

Perform yearly maintenance on your heating system: Periodic cleanings will keep your system operating at peak efficiency. Cost: varies, but some HVAC companies will include free cleanings as part of a yearly maintenance program.

Set the thermostat as low as possible: People have different comfort levels, but your household will enjoy significant savings if you can agree on a maximum temperature. Cost: $0.00.

Use a double-setback thermostat: These can save money if they are properly programmed. Cost: $20.00 and up.

Inspect windows. Instead of replacing a window for $200 or more, consider a low-cost window insulation kit that includes an insulating film. Cost: Approximately $6.00 per window.

Seal ductwork: If you can access your heating ducts, look for gaps and seal places where air is escaping. Cost: A roll of duct tape is approximately $5.00.