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10 Ways to Winterize Your Home on a Budget

Caulking window frames

Keeping your home running efficiently should be a priority, especially during the extreme cold weather in the winter, but nobody wants another big expense. For this reason, we have put together this list of ten fantastic, high impact, low-cost or no-cost ways to improve your home efficiency in preparation for the winter.

1. Flush hot water heater

This is a great way to improve your water heater efficiency and best of all, it’s free to do! Particles build up over time in the bottom of your water heater. This causes the heating element to have to work harder to heat the same volume of water, costing you money every day. Draining the out (you’ll see the chunks and particles come flowing out) takes some time and some preparation to make sure you don’t flood your house, but it’s well worth doing, at least once per year. Make sure to shut your heater off with PLENTY of time for it to cool down – you don’t want to burn yourself! Check with a plumber in case of any questions.

Cost: FREE
Savings: $200+ per year

Flush your hot water tank
Draining a hot water tank of water to remove built up particles

2. Reverse ceiling fans

We think of ceiling fans as a summer item, keeping us cool when it’s hot out, but they can increase home efficiency when it’s cold out also. Ceiling fans have a switch so they can reverse directions and should be spinning clockwise in the winter. This helps push hot air near the ceiling toward the floor. This simple trick lets you take better advantage of the heat you are already providing to your home.

Cost: FREE (if you already have a ceiling fan)
Savings: $100+ per year

Ceiling fan directions and what they do with cold or hot air
Changing the direction of the ceiling fans in your home can help combat cold temperatures during the winter months.

3. Clear out gutters

If you’ve ever read a Pro Advice article, you know we’re sticklers for clean gutters, but we’re going to mention it here anyway. If you don’t have Pro Flow Gutter Protection (what are you waiting for) you’ll need to regularly check your gutters for blockages. Making sure water can flow freely will help prevent icicles and ice dams from forming.

Cost: FREE
Savings: $1000s in avoided roof, shingle and gutter damage avoided

4. Replace air filters

Your furnace has a lot of work to do this winter, keeping your home warm. The filter inside it, if it’s clogged, just adds to the workload. Changing the filter regularly lessens the load on your furnace, which lets the furnace use less energy to move the same amount of air. This translate to less wear and tear on the furnace and a lower energy bill. Win-win.

Cost: Roughly $10 per filter (every 6 months or so)
Savings: $100s over the life of the furnace

Clean vs Dirty air filters
Replacing your air filters twice a year can increase air quality in your home.

5. Window insulation film

Window shrink wrap can be installed easily to help prevent leaks that allow your precious heat to escape. This is a temporary solution and does not last long, but it is worth doing especially if you have old, leaky windows. Window insulation film can help prevent up to 70% of your home’s heat from escaping right out the windows.

Cost: $15 to $20 per kit.
Savings: $20 per window per winter

6. Door draft guards

Draft guards can be a great way to close up gaps underneath your exterior doors. The bigger the gap, the more potential heat you are losing beneath the door.

Cost: $10 to $15.
Savings: $50-100 per winter

Door draft guard
Placing a draft guard on the foot of your door can help reduce heat loss.

7. Programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat can have a huge impact on your year-round energy bill, not just winter. The US Department of Energy has stated that you can save 1% on your utility bill for every degree you lower your thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you automate this process and ensure your savings for the entire year.

Cost: $30 – $250 depending on the model
Savings: $100s per month

With a programable thermostat you can avoid heating an empty home.

8. Caulk & spray foam

Fill in exterior gaps with caulk and interior gaps with foam or batt insulation. Areas with extra large gaps, caulk the inside as well, removing the moldings to fill in all gaps in the insulation. You can find gaps by holding up a candle or incense near openings to see if the smoke is drawn in or out of the openings.

Cost: $20 for a basic caulk gun and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk.
Savings: $100s per year

Caulking window frames
Using caulk to seal up gaps in window frames and wall seams can help prevent energy loss.

9. Pipe insulation

Your hot water pipes sit full of hot water most of the day, only to be used a handful of times throughout the day. The 99% of the time the hot water is sitting there, it is losing heat to the surrounding space. This means the heat is wasted. Wrap your pipes with insulation to reduce the heat loss in the pipe and save on your heating bill.

Cost: $1-$5 per foot
Savings: $100s per year

Pipe insulation
Pipe insulation can help keep hot water hot as it sits in your pipes ready to be used.

10. Attic access insulation

Since the attic access opening is often located in the ceiling inside a bedroom closet, the air leakage and heat loss (or heat gain during summer) are seldom noticeable. You can either make your own insulated panel to fit the opening, or you can purchase a premade cover. Both can be worth the cost in helping to avoid energy waste in your home.

Cost: $20- $100
Savings: $50 per year

Attic access insulation
Attic access insulation prevent heat loss from the main floor of your home.

Implementing any or all of these tips will have a significant impact on your energy bill this winter. If you have any home improvement questions, or want to save even more money with insulation or energy-saving windows, be sure to call Pro Home Improvement at 888-776-1998. Stay warm!