Five Easy Ways to Save On Your Heating Bills This Winter

Rope Caulk. Simply separate the strands of the rope, and press into any gaps you see.
Rope Caulk. Simply separate the strands of the rope, and press into any gaps you see.

Winter is right around the corner, and with it are those dreaded, skyrocketing heating bills. Those of us who live in older homes, especially, seem to get hit hard once the cold weather hits. The good news is that by making five simple changes, you can save quite a bit of money this winter, and have a more comfortable home, too.

All of these projects are simple and inexpensive to do.Many will take you less than an hour, and none will take more than a day to complete. Ready to get saving? Here we go!

Money-Saving Tip #1: Seal Window Drafts

Windows are the single biggest source of heat loss in most homes. While new, double paned windows will certainly help, some of us don't have the budget or desire to replace all of our windows. A few inexpensive items from the hardware store or home center will solve your window woes:

Caulk Gun and Caulk: These are irreplaceable tools for keeping the draft out and the heat in. Caulk completely around the outer window frame---you'd be surprised how drafty it can be around that trim that surrounds the window. While you're at it, take the caulk outside and completely caulk around the exterior side of your windows as well.

Rope Caulk: This is inexpensive, no-caulk-gun-required silicone that you cut to size and press into any gaps in your widow. Some ideas: press it into the area where the upper and lower sashes meet, around the edges of both the upper and lower sashes, and around individual panes of glass in multi-paned windows. The advantage to rope caulk is that it can be removed when the weather warms, so your windows will be ready to use. You can even store it in a plastic bag and use it again next year.

Plastic Window Sheeting: We've all seen this stuff, right? Clear plastic film that you attach with double-stick tape, and then use the hairdryer on to make it fit snugly. It works because it completely blocks drafts, and creates an air space between it and your window, which gives you a tiny bit of insulation. If you only do one thing, this is the thing I'd recommend doing, as it will solve most of your problems, at least temporarily.

Money-Saving Tip #2: Seal Door Drafts

If you feel a cool breeze when you walk past your front door, it's time to seal it up. There are a variety of foam and metal flanges that you can use to make a tighter seal on the vertical parts of your door. Along the bottom, you have a couple of options. You can install a door sweep, which is attached to the bottom of your door, and is usually made of a nylon, bristle-brush type material or a solid, black rubber sweep. You position it on the door so that the sweep barely "sweeps" the floor when you open andn close the door. An even easier option is to make or purchase what many people refer to as a "draft snake" or a "door snake." These are generally thin tubes of fabric, filled with rice, dry beans, or sand, that you set on the floor, pushed up against the bottom of the door. I'll have instructions soon on how to make one of your own, but you can also purchase them from craft fairs and some department stores.

Money-Saving Tip #3: Close Your Shades or Drapes When the Sun Goes Down

The idea here is to work with what you've got. All day, the sun streams into your rooms, and you get a fair amount of ambient heat from it. The problem is, if you leave your drapes and shades open once nightfall comes, all of that ambient heat is quickly lost through those leaky old windows! You'll keep more of that free heat inside by closing your drapes at nightfall.

Money-Saving Tip #4: Turn the Thermostat Down Just Two Degrees

Believe it or not, doing this one thing can save you at least $50 per year. And every two degrees lower you make it, you'll save another fifty or so. The deal is, the warmer we want our homes, the more often the furnace has to come on, so the more gas we use, and the higher our bills become. Two degrees is barely perceptible to us. But you can bet you'll see a difference in your heating bills!

Money-Saving Tip #5: Put On A Sweater, Already!

Going along with Tip #4, we won't need to turn the heat up so high if we dress like it's winter. I know people who keep the thermostat set high, and then walk around in shorts and t-shirts in their homes in the middle of winter. Why? It's winter---pants, long-sleeves, and nice, heavy socks are made for winter. And a nice thick blanket doesn't hurt either!

By just doing these five simple, cheap, or even free, things, you will save money on your heating bills this winter. And every bit of money we can save on those monsters helps!

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