The winters months often bring with them inflated energy costs, as people turn up the heat around the clock to stay warm. However, there are a number of things you can do to winterize your home, including keeping the heat in and the cold out, and you'll see your utility bills decrease significantly in price. Most of these tips are fairly simple, but can result in significant savings. So before Old Man Winter tries to break into your house, take these steps to ensure your home will remain warm at a lower cost into spring:
1. Inspect doors and windows for drafts. The easiest way to inspect for drafts: Walk around your home with a lighter or candle and hold it up to a window or door, preferably on a windy day. If you see movement in your flame, it's time for a quick fix-it job. The doors can be sealed with weather stripping and the window may need a fresh dose of caulking.
2. Improve attic insulation. Replacing attic insulation can be costly, but it's well worth the upfront investment. Take a peek up in your attic, and if the 2x4s are showing through the insulation, it's time to add more. You may want to have insulation installed professionally, as it can be a messy job.
3. Install a programmable thermostat. You can purchase a programmable thermostat at your local hardware store for as little as $25. However, you may want to call a professional to install it--unless you are handy with electrical appliances and wiring. By taking this simple measure, you can lower the temperature of your home while you're away at work without turning off your heat entirely.
4. Clean the gutters. Unless you're afraid of heights, you can do this one yourself as long as you're careful. All you need is a ladder and some work gloves. To ensure the job is complete--after removing all the leaves and other debris--use a hose to spray water into the downspout to clear hard-to-reach obstructions. Clogged gutters can present a dangerous situation in the event of a snowstorm.(If the melting snow can't drain, it will freeze in your gutters. This increased weight can cause them to chip away at the frame of your home.
5. Adjust the ceiling fans. Ceiling fans should rotate clockwise during the winter months. This way, the heat is evenly distributed throughout your rooms, as the fan pushes rising warm air down throughout the home.
Final thoughts. While most of these tips don't come with a hefty price tag, the insulation and thermostat installation can be pricey. However, once the upgrades are complete and paid for, you'll enjoy watching the savings roll in.
What other ways can you suggest to winterize your home?
David Bakke writes for the popular finance blog, MoneyCrashers.com - which covers additional topics like travel and DIY home maintenance tips.