A few minor improvements to your home could make a major difference in your heating bills come January, potentially saving hundreds of dollars.
It’s hard to believe, but winter is practically at our doorstep. It may be painful to think about ice and snow just yet, but the calendar suggests that now is the time to get ready. A few minor improvements to your home could make a major difference in your heating bills come January, potentially saving hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, many of these essential home improvements are simple and affordable. Consider adding these five home improvement tasks to your fall “to-do” list.
Get a home energy audit. Find a qualified professional who can come to your home and help you figure out where you are wasting energy. Some local power companies are happy to offer energy audits for customers, oftentimes at no additional charge. But even if your power company doesn’t offer this, it is a worthwhile investment. A qualified contractor will be able to provide an in-depth energy audit that will save you money in the long run. Now is the time to pinpoint and fix any energy issues so you can see an immediate impact on your energy bills.
Patch up any air leaks. November and December are great months for solving any air leakage problems in your home, so grab some caulk or expanding foam and seal up leaks around electrical outlets, air vents, windows, doors, etc. More than likely there will be some small holes that can be sealed quite easily, which can make a real difference when cold weather sets in.
Have your heating system checked. A regular tune-up of your furnace may seem unnecessary, but it can save a lot of money over time. Many HVAC companies offer an annual contract for regular maintenance on your furnace and air conditioner, which means you get an annual inspection of each system every year. Remember, if your heating system isn’t running itself efficiently, you could be paying too much to heat your home. This might also be the time to have a programmable thermostat installed. The latest versions offer wireless controls and smartphone apps that let you set heating and cooling remotely. Programmable thermostats are a great way to save money by ensuring that your home is the right temperature at all times.
Add more insulation. Unless you live in an older home, your walls are likely to be well insulated with fiberglass insulation. However, if your home is older you might consider insulating the walls sufficiently. Since heat travels skyward, be sure your attic is well insulated too. This can be a do-it-yourself job but it might be easier to hire a professional.
Install new doors and windows. This may seem a little “over the top” if you’re planning to install them yourself, but most people are happy to let the professionals install new entry doors and windows. While this might be a larger investment than installation and caulking, nothing keeps the heat from escaping your home better than sealing up the largest “holes.” When shopping for windows and doors, look for a professional installer in your area. Your installer can show you which windows are likely to reduce your energy bills and which doors have the best insulation.
Install solar shades. Even if you can’t get new windows right now, solar shades can help keep the heat in your home during the winter and the heat out during summer months. Look for high-efficiency solar shades for the windows that let in the most cold air – usually on the north or east sides of your home.