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Easy Winter Fixes To Save Your Hard-Earned Money

Updated on September 23, 2014

The time to begin saving money on heating costs this winter is to get your home ready before the temperatures drop outside. It doesn’t matter whether you heat with electric, oil, gas or wood. The cost of heating your home is rising each year. While you cannot dictate what rate the fuel providers charge, you can dictate how much heating fuel you’ll need this winter. Getting your home and property ready for the cold temperatures does not have to be expensive. Although you should get a reputable service provider for some things, general maintenance and care is something you can do in a weekend.

Inside Living Area

The first place to start winterizing is inside your home. Most of your heating dollars are wasted due to drafts inside the living area. Begin by inspecting your entrance doors and windows. Replace or install weather-stripping around all doors and windows. Caulk any cracks in door panels or window frames with a silicone caulk. Ensure that all windows close completely and adjust them as necessary. If you have a window air conditioner, wrap the front and the back of the unit with sheet plastic.

Another easy fix is often overlooked. The receptacle and light switch plates are most often major areas of drafts. You can purchase pre-cut foam insulator sheets at most hardware or discount stores. Simply unscrew the plate from the wall, place the pre-cut sheet on the back of the plate and reattach the plate to the wall.

Change the filter on your furnace. This simple fix will help your furnace to be more energy efficient. You can also remove the front panels of most electrical furnaces, and vacuum inside especially around the blower wheel. If you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself, or you have an oil or gas unit, contact a reputable service provider and have them thoroughly clean the unit and ensure it is ready for the season. This is also a good time to consider purchasing and installing a programmable thermostat. Wood fireplace owners should also have the chimney cleaned and inspected as well as the firebox.

Take a moment to reverse the direction of all ceiling fans in the home. Most ceiling fans have a switch mounted on the housing between the light and fan blades. Flip the switch to make the fan blades turn clockwise which forces warm air downward.

Go inside your attic and look for areas where light is coming through cracks. Seal all potential draft areas with an expandable foam sealant. If sealing around chimneys or furnace flues be sure to use a fire safe sealant available at most hardware stores.

Outside The Home

Once you have the indoors buttoned up, it is time to head outside. Turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and cover the faucets. Use pipe foam over the outdoor faucets and wrap the foam with sheet plastic. Disconnect any outdoor hoses and store them inside the shed or garage.

Get inside your crawl space and look for cracks and crevices in the walls of the crawl space. Seal all cracks and crevices with an expandable foam sealant. While you are inside the crawl space, ensure there is enough insulation under the floor of the home. This is also a good time to check all water and drain lines to ensure there are no leaks. Install electric heat tape on the main incoming water line to help ensure you won’t get a frozen line.

Look around the outside walls of your home and seal any cracks or damages with a silicone based caulk. Inspect around the dryer vent where it attaches to the wall and seal with caulk if necessary. If you have an older dryer vent that does not have a door, consider purchasing and installing a louvered dryer vent. These types of dryer vents close when the dryer is not in use, which helps to prevent drafts from coming through your dryer vent.

More Considerations

Invest in a couple of kerosene heaters. These will provide a back-up heat source in the event power goes out or you run out of heating oil unexpectedly. Kerosene heaters are safe when you use them properly. Be sure to read the directions on your units to ensure you always use them in a safe manner.

This is also a good time to flush and fill your hot water heater. Sediment builds up inside the hot water heater tank over time. Performing this simple maintenance task will help your water heater last longer. It is also good to test the thermostats and heating elements as well.

Finally, don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. This only takes a few minutes and should be done every fall and spring.

Doing these few tasks will save you money throughout the winter heating season. Most of the suggestions you can do yourself, but if you are unsure about a project call in a professional. Better to pay a small bit more now than a large sum later. The last thing you want is to have to put out extra money during the holiday season. Be safe, stay warm and enjoy the savings.

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    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 

      4 years ago from West Kootenays

      I bought a large Victorian home and it boggles my mind that in all those previous decades, that no one winterized. Each year, I've gone around and sealed cracks and it has made a big difference.

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