By Tim Smith
Does the thought of replacing your furnace or all the windows make you wince with financial fright? Winterizing your home doesn't have to be a lesson in budget numbers. Although some of the most reputable sources will tell you these ideas could save you hundreds of dollars a year, it's not necessary to run the bank account dry. Take a look at these incredibly affordable and effective ways to winterize the home this year.
Close Those Gaps
A cold chill running through the home isn't a horror movie coming to life, but is an open hole somewhere in the structure. Cracks and holes throughout the home contribute between 5 and 30 percent of lost energy each year, reports the U.S. Department of Energy. Find those holes and seal them with caulk. Close the fireplace flue when it's not in use. Drafts don't have to be a permanent household fixture.
Take Down the Window AC Unit
That air conditioning unit was a lifesaver in the summer, but now it creates an opening to the cold outside. Although you can cover the appliance with a tarp or other material, choose to remove it entirely from the window. Being able to close the window is an energy-saver. Even a strong cover allows some cold air through the sides.
TLC for the Furnace
You may not have enough cash on-hand to pay for an HVAC service call, but do replace the furnace filter. The filter becomes a barrier and an energy-waster when it's full of particulates. Even purchase a reusable filter to rinse periodically. You'll save money and prolong the furnace's lifespan. Leaving the filter dirty only forces you to call a professional when the entire system breaks down. Click here for tips from EnergyStar.gov.
If you see a crack around a door or window, fill it quickly with insulation. Any crevice large enough for some fiberglass insulation should receive a stuffing or two to keep drafts to a minimum. Insulation is relatively inexpensive so buy a little more to cover the attic. You'll notice the difference in comfort and energy use with just a little elbow grease. Click here for more about different types of insulation.
Cover Key Items
Aside from wearing sweaters indoors to stay warm, keep other items free from cold and drafts. Smooth an insulation kit across all windows to retain indoor heat. Try wrapping the hot water heater in an approved blanket. Just these simple ideas save money and winterize your home for better comfort and energy efficiency.
Pat yourself on the back and celebrate with a favorite meal tonight after adding these ideas to the home. That cold draft may not be felt along your ankles anymore. Simple repairs and home alterations make a big impact on the overall energy budget.