Winterize a Home Inexpensively: Tips to Keep You Warm
While writing this article, I am freezing. Yet another reason why this house was so inexpensive has come to mind - it has no insulation. In fact, I'm pretty sure that sleeping in my car would be more comfortable at times. This is bad news - especially since it's only October and the cold has barely started to arrive.
If you are facing a similar struggle - attempting to minimize costs while keeping yourself at a temperature permitting survival, then I am sure that my research on how to maintain warm will be of some use for you.
Although it is likely that you have a working furnace (something that is doubtful in my home), many of these ideas can save you significant amounts of money in your monthly heating bills - not to mention the positive impact that consuming less electricity has on the environment.
I have divided these heating ideas into three categories:
- Big projects
- Padding the home
- Living through the cold
While Big projects will cost a significant amount of money, they are going to have the biggest impact on providing a level of warm. Meanwhile, padding the home ideas will give you some beneficial ways to increase warmth before the cold strikes. Finally, the living through the cold reveals the least-expensive, immediately beneficial ideas for those who forgot to plan ahead and have bank accounts that are as frozen as their homes.
Big Projects: Preparing for the Cold
These big ideas also have big price tags. However, the benefits can be equally large. Remember that saving $5,000 now by not replacing something may end up costing you thousands more in monthly power bills. Take a look and see if these ideas can benefit you.
Replace Your Furnace
If your furnace looks anything like mine, then try to avoid using it as much as possible. With low efficiency levels, the odds of your monthly bill during the winter costing as much as a new furnace are quite likely.
My house is heated by an old coal-furnace turned gas. Not only am I confident that it's cost would be incredibly high to run (especially since heat seeps out of our house), but I am afraid that turning it on may end up in a huge explosion.
While it is highly unlikely that your heater is as terrible as mine, you could certainly benefit from discovering how efficient it is. Perhaps your electric bill will drop significantly by spending several thousand to replace your heating system. And remember, many states will provide tax incentives for this improvement - making it even more valuable.
Get New Windows
This was one change that I ended up doing right away. Because the windows that originally filled my home were from 60 years ago, although they were beautiful antiques, they held in about as much heat as a tent. Therefore replacing them was a smart and valuable move.
When looking into replacing your windows, while you can do it yourself, if you spend some time researching and contacting multiple window installers, you may be able to find someone to install windows for not much more than it would cost you to purchase them on your own! Many window installers have deals to buy windows at discounted prices - if they pass these deals on to you, they are well worth it.
WARNING: Get estimates from as many window installers as you can - and tell them that you are getting estimates from other people as well. While I was very happy with the price that it ultimately ended up costing, we had one guy try to charge us 4x the price we ended up paying! Find an honest company and stick with them.
Windows are another area where you can get a tax rebate. This can help set off the high cost even more.
Install a Wood Burning Stove
While a fireplace is a great feature to have in a house, it does not do much for warming up a home. Consider purchasing a wood burning stove insert to place where your fireplace is now. These inserts may cost from $1000-$3000, but they can eliminate your heating bill. They are especially valuable if you have easy access to free wood.
Another plus about a stove insert is that you can install it on your own if you spend some time doing the research. Spending $1000 for a wood stove that completes destroys your need to use electricity for heat can save you several hundred dollars a month!
Padding the Home: Keeping the Heat In
While these projects will not break the bank, they can prevent you from heating the entire neighborhood. Many older homes have small cracks and crevasses where heat can readily escape. Spending some time minimizing the amount of air flowing between your home and the outdoors will greatly reduce your energy bill.
If the outdoors isn't going to warm you up, why should you heat it?
Insulate Anything You Can
While redoing my bathroom, I discovered something terrible, my walls have zero insulation in them! This is bad news for sure. However, having the bathroom walls already ripped out, we are taking advantage of the situation and placing insulation in here. The few dollars that we spend will at least keep us toasty while in the facility.
One of the easiest places to add more insulation is the attic. Our attic is full of very old cottony material that is a poor insulator. Another plan of ours is to place additional layers of insulation in our attic. Because heat rises, improving the insulation in your roof can have stop the heat at the ceiling. There is no need to warm the squirrels and mice that find their way into your attic.
Seal Your Doors
If you can see light or feel cold above, below, or beside your door, then insulating the edges of your door is an absolute necessity. The good news is that it is also incredibly inexpensive! With just a couple of dollars you can purchase foam tape, seals to nail to the bottom of your door, and reduce the amount of money sneaking out your door cracks!
Check all of the doors leading to the outside of your home - including doors into a garage or basement. This alone can save a decent amount of money.
Wrap Your Windows
Although a very temporary fix, it is also an inexpensive and money saving solution. By visiting the local hardware store it is possible to find a shrink wrap that can go over the inside of your windows. This wrap, though rather unattractive to the eye, can actually help cut costs because of the amount of heat that can be lost through drafty windows.
The local home improvement store will have kits that you can purchase providing a great shrink wrap with double-sided tape to help insulate around your windows. Definitely an inexpensive way to save on heating bills. Because this method is temporary, it can be a great way to save time and money without making any drastic changes to a home - excellent for renters.
Living Through The Cold
Now you have a real problem - it's freezing inside and out, and you have no money to afford paying for a new furnace or your heating bill. What will you do?
These ideas are for the thrifty, desperate, and creative. Hopefully these ideas will help you make it through the winter without breaking the bank.
Use Area Heaters
Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a new furnace, consider purchasing one or two area heaters. These can cost anywhere from $15-$50 and provide enough warmth to heat a room 200-500 feet. I have been using these a lot.
Before you go to bed, turn one on in your room, and when you wake up, a couple minutes before you get out of bed turn it on again. These area heaters work great for keeping you warm. Simply close the doors to rooms that you are not using and caring the heater around with you.
Cook All of Your Meals
You have to eat. Rather than eating out or buy cereal all the time, consider eating meals at home that require cooking. Whether complex dishes or spaghetti and soups, cooking food will quickly heat up the kitchen and the surrounding areas. Additionally, the added benefit of eating something warm decreases the discomfort of the cold just a little.
Enjoy Hot Drinks
Make tea, hot chocolate, and cider your new best friends. Heat up water and make your favorite drink. The warmth from the drink feels great as your drink it and on your hands as you hold the mug. Yes, hot water is a fantastic thing!
Say bye bye to the days of sitting around in your boxers. It's time to bundle up!
Here's what I want you to do - go watch a Christmas movie. Do you notice the way everyone dresses as they walk around outside? From now one, that's how you dress inside.
Put on long underwear and a hoodie, it's time to start living like an Eskimo.
Make a Lot of Friends
Now is the perfect time to buy a Little Caesars Pizza for $5 and take it over to a friends place. He will be appreciative and maybe invite you over again! The more time you are able to spend in his incredibly warm and well insulated home, the less time you will have to spend in your icebox of a home.
If you have many different friends, you will be able to rotate from one house to another, preventing the need to impose too much on a single individual. Yes, making friends and helping friends out when in need can definitely benefit you later on in life.
Spring Will Come!
While dealing with the cold is not an entirely fun experience, it always warms the heart to remember that summer will come again. Just a couple of months bearing through the cold and the sun will appear again. Spend this time to do some serious thinking - maybe a move south is a good idea.
I am sure that there are many other great tips for insulating a house to help survive the winter. If you have used or heard of any ideas, you are certainly welcome to share them in the comments section below!