Tips to winterize your home on a budget

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US family spends about $ 1,411.80 per year on energy bills.

GREENSBORO, NC – If you feel cold in the air, consider winterizing your home to reduce your heating bills. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US family spends about $ 1,411.80 per year on energy bills – nearly half of that money goes into heating and cooling. Home experts say you can save nearly 50 percent by properly winterizing your home. This includes inspecting insulation, sealing gaps, and maximizing heating and hot water systems.

The US Department of Energy offers the following strategies to help you conserve energy, save money, and be comfortable during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips are free and can be used daily to increase your savings. Others are simple and inexpensive steps you can take to get the maximum savings over the winter.

Take advantage of the sun’s warmth

  • Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally warm your home and close at night to lessen the chill you may feel through cold windows.
  • Use a sturdy, clear plastic sheet on a frame in the cold winter months or stick a clear plastic sheet on the inside of your window frame. Make sure the plastic is tightly closed to the frame to reduce the entry of objects.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating curtains or blinds on windows that feel drafty after exposure to the weather.
  • Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
  • When you’re home and awake, set your thermostat as low as possible.
  • When you are asleep or away from home, turn your thermostat down by 10 ° to 15 ° for eight hours and save around 10% per year on heating and cooling costs. A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to reset your temperature.
  • If you have a heat pump, keep a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
  • Seal the air leaks around utility openings for pipes (“plumbing ducts”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lighting in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cabinets and cupboards.
  • Find out how to spot air leaks.
  • Learn more about airtighting of new and existing homes.
  • Add caulk or weather strip to seal air leaks on leaky doors and windows.
  • Find out how to choose and apply the appropriate waterproofing tape.

Maintain your heating systems

  • Plan the service for your heating system.
  • Stoves and heat pumps: replace your filter once a month or as needed.
  • Wood and pellet heating systems: Regularly clean the smoke vent and regularly clean the inside of the unit with a wire brush to ensure that your home is being heated efficiently.

Reduce heat loss through the fireplace

  • Keep your chimney shutter closed unless a fire is on. Keeping the hatch open is like keeping a window wide open in winter. This allows warm air to enter the chimney directly.
  • If you are using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening the flaps in the bottom of the firebox (if you have one) or opening the nearest window slightly – about 1 inch – and closing the doors that lead into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50 ° and 55 ° F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug in and lock the fireplace.
  • When using the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat air exchange system that blows heated air back into the room.
  • Check the gasket on the chimney flap and make it as tight as possible.
  • Buy grids made from C-shaped metal pipe to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the chimney.

Lower your water heating costs

  • Reduce the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 ° F). You not only save energy, but you also avoid scalding your hands.

Lower your holiday lighting costs

  • Use light emitting diode, or “LED”, holiday fairy lights to cut the cost of decorating your home for the winter vacation.
  • Find out more about the benefits and potential cost savings of LED Christmas lights.
  • Find ENERGY STAR® certified decorative fairy lights manufacturers and brands.
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