Heating your home accounts for about 42 percent of your utility bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Therefore, it’s important to button up your home tightly when cold weather rolls in. Sealing cracks, damming drafts, and adding extra insulation will prevent that costly heat from escaping — saving you money and helping conserve our planet’s natural resources. Here’s a rundown of 10 tools that can help you effectively weatherize your home this season.
This should be the No. 1 tool in your winterization kit. Wrap fiberglass batt insulation around anything that stands still and gives off heat, like your water heater. If you’re using faced insulation, make sure the Kraft paper or foil moisture barrier is facing out. You should also add a few more layers in your attic to make sure you have the recommended R-value for your area. If you have gaps in your walls with little to no insulation, have some fiberglass insulation blown in. Drafts created by inefficient wall cavity insulation waste up to 30 percent of your home’s energy.
This inexpensive tube is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Use it to stop air from seeping through tiny gaps around your home, which can reduce your energy efficiency by up to 30 percent a year. Check window frames, gaps around chimneys, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets for air leaks, then seal them up with caulk. Make sure to use a fire-resistant caulk when sealing around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and other high-temperature fixtures.
For larger gaps in window frames and around baseboards, have a can of foam sealant on hand. Walk around the exterior of your house and look for plumbing, ducting, or utility cut-throughs, then fill the gaps with sealant.
An easy, inexpensive way to stop drafts and air leaks from areas you can’t caulk is to stick some weather-stripping foam tape where the seal meets. Weather stripping is ideal for the bottoms of windows and doors. For larger gaps, consider a door seal.
To save money during both the winter and summer seasons, insulate your pipes. Standard foam pipe insulation is a good solution, but for extra energy savings, consider fiberglass foil-backed insulation. It helps cut down on heat loss for hot water pipes and keeps cold water pipes from sweating in the summer. Cut the insulation to the correct size for your pipes, then hold it in place with heat-resistant tape.
Without insulation behind them, outlets and light switches are basically holes in your wall. Install foam gaskets behind them to stop potential air leaks. They come precut for a variety of plug and switch styles.
If you have an attached garage that’s not insulated, you’re wasting valuable energy. A garage door insulation kit, complete with precut fiberglass insulation blankets that fit into the exposed channel of the door, is a simple way to stop energy waste.
If replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones isn’t an option this winter, consider an inexpensive window insulation kit. They’re a quick and easy way to save energy and money. Window insulation kits come with clear plastic sheets that should be taped snugly over your windows to keep warm air in and cold drafts out. (You may need to blow-dry the sheets to pull them tight enough.) These kits are easy to install and remove again in the summer, and you don’t even notice they’re there — until you get your (lower) energy bill.
Change out your air filters at least once a month during the winter. Dirty air filters put undue stress on your HVAC system, which wastes energy. Find the return air intake in your home, open the frame, and make note of the size and rating of your existing filters. (You can find this information on the edge of the filters.) When you have a new filter ready to go, simply open the frame again and switch out your old one.
These smart home devices have dropped in price significantly, so you can pick one up for between $100 and $170. They work by using technology to determine if anyone is in the house; if not, the heat is lowered. Adjusting your thermostat by just a few degrees can save a lot of money, so a smart thermostat ends up paying for itself.
Using some or all of these tools will help keep you cozy and warm this winter — and save some energy in the process. If you’re working on creating a super energy-efficient home, tell us what tools are in your kit in the comments below.
An award-winning freelance journalist, Jennifer Tuohy has been writing for newspapers and magazines, and writing marketing and online content, for more than 15 years. Her passions lie in technology, sustainability, and the intersection of the two. Jennifer also writes for The Home Depot, which carries a wide selection of fiberglass insulation and other insulation options you can view by clicking here.
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