WINTERIZE YOUR HOME ON A BUDGET
Even us Texans can have a pretty cold (although typically short) winter, so make sure your home is ready for it with some quick budget friendly tips.
1.Clean Your Gutters/Check Roof & Siding
Making sure that water can flow freely through your gutters now will help prevent clogs and damage from forming later. Check to make sure it is not loose. Also, while looking at the exterior of your home, check for any damages to the roof or siding. Cost: Other than your sweat and time, free.
2.Flush the Water Heater
Particles and sediment can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit's efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater functioning at its best. Cost: 100% free!
3.Run Fans in Reverse
Ceiling fans are everyone's favorite summer budget-saver. But they can help in the winter as well! Have your ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction so they push warm air along the ceiling towards the floor. If they're going counterclockwise, they won't be as effective. Cost: free if you have a fan.
Regularly changing the filters in your central air and heating system can significantly improve its efficiency and longevity, while easing the pressure on your wallet. Cost: a new filter runs about $10.
5.Window Insulation Film
Window insulation film can keep up to 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows. Don't worry, properly installed window plastic is essentially invisible. Adding a buffer against drafts and extra still air space can give a nice boost to your home's ability to hold heat.
Save even more by hiring a pro to install a high-tech "low-e" film directly to the window glass. If your windows are old, consider investing in a set of efficient windows—which qualify for a federal tax credit covering 10 percent of cost (not including installation costs), up to $200 for windows and skylights. Cost: $20 to $35 per kit.
When winterizing your home, draft guards can help save heat from escaping under the door. Cost: $10 to $15.
7.Weather-strip Tape and Caulking
Drafts and air leaks increase your heating costs, so make sure your windows and doors are sealed tight with weather-stripping. Simple, easy, and smart. Cost: $5 to $10 per roll. Any remaining gaps in siding, windows, or doors can be filled with caulk. For extra drafty windows and doors, caulk the inside too, pulling off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. Cost: $20 for a basic caulk gun and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk.
For maximum heat retention, pack fiberglass insulation around basement doors, windows in unused rooms, and window AC units. Make sure your attic floor is insulated, too. Just remember to be careful and wear gloves! Cost: around $25 per roll.
The US Department of Energy says you can save as much as 1% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home's temperature during the winter. Install a programmable thermostat now and save money by keeping the temp down when you're not at home.
Your chimney is a huge source of heat loss come wintertime. If not in active use, plug it up with a chimney balloon when winterizing your home to keep drafts out and heat in. Cost: $55.
11.Check all exposed decking/siding
Add a fresh coat of sealer to the decks to prevent harsh element damage to the wood or material.
12.Insulate your Pipes
Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation. (Use the same method to determine if your hot water heater would benefit from some insulation.)
13.Seal your home’s ducts
Studies show 10 to 30 percent of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from ducts. Therefore, it could pay to hire a professional technician to come out and test your duct system and fix any problems. Properly sealing ducts can save the average home up to $140 annually, according to the American Solar Energy Society. Plus, you'll have better protection against mold and dust.