The Midwest has already received its first couple rounds of snow, complete with ice and biting temperatures. Maybe that list of to-do’s you had before winter still has a few items on it, and as a result, you could be losing energy – and money – heating your home. Well, it’s not too late to save yourself some of that money… after all, winter still lasts until March. Here is where to start:
Plug those gaps. If you can feel cold air entering your home from gaps in your window frames, doors, outlets or dryer vents, that means you’re losing precious heating dollars. However, this is one of the easiest problems to identify… as simple as feeling for a draft by all your windows, or around the cracks of your doors. Getting rid of the gaps in your doors can be as simple as putting in some weather-stripping.
For gaps in windows, caulking can be a good solution. Although it is best to apply it before winter when the weather is above 40 degrees, you can always try to take advantage of a break in the cold snap. If you’re in a pinch, make sure you’re storing water-soluble caulk at room temperature for a full day. Blowing a hot air dryer on the surface you’re caulking will make the surface warmer and help make sure the caulk stays in place. In extremely cold temperatures, a high-performance polyurethane caulking product is helpful. Plastic window film insulation kits – while temporary – are a good way to stop warm air from leaking from the inside.
Wrap your pipes. The US Department of Energy estimates that up to one-third of the average homeowner’s utility dollars are spent on heating water. Keep the water in your hot water tank – and the pipes leading from it – warm by wrapping them with special insulation.
Reverse your ceiling fans. Here’s another easy one. Reversing the direction on your ceiling fans will circulate the warm air on the ceiling back down to your living areas.
Have your furnace checked. A well-tuned furnace saves on energy and energy dollars because a clean heating system doesn’t have to work as hard. Make sure your furnace is in good working order by having a heating professional inspect it once a year. You ideally want to do this at the beginning of cold weather season, but it is not too late to do it. You should also be sure to change your furnace filter regularly – heating professionals recommend doing so about once a month, especially in the very hot and cool months.
So, even if you missed the winter deadline, you don’t have to sweat how much money is being wasted if you take care of a few small things… even now. Even if you have to bundle up a little bit, it’s worth the effort for peace of mind and more importantly, money saved.