Is your home ready for winter?
In the cold winter months, heating our homes can cause our utility bills to sky rocket, leaving many of us wondering how to stay warm indoors without going over-budget.
One way to save money through the chilly season is by winterizing, which involves taking steps to guard your home against the elements.
Winterizing your home helps keep your home warm while reducing your energy bills. Best of all, winterizing is relatively inexpensive, especially if you're willing to tackle some DIY (do-it-yourself) projects.
Let's take a look at fourmoney-saving ways to keep your home warm and toasty this winter.
The great thermostat debate: To lower or not to lower?
Some people feel strongly that changing the thermostat frequently is a waste of money. This is because stopping and starting furnaces causes them to run inefficiently.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, it's a smart idea to turn your thermostat down 7–10 degrees when you will be away from your home for at least 8 hours. It's estimated that you could save as much as 10% a year on your heating bill with this method. You can also save money by setting the thermostat at 68°F during the day. Investing in a programmable “smart" thermostat will make it easier to control your home's temperature anytime, anyplace.
Snap, de-gap and wrap your windows
Windows are typically a big cold air leak point. Check that all your windows are firmly closed at the top and bottom and snap the locks fully closed to prevent air leaks during the winter months.
Even new windows can have small cracks around the edges and sills. Look carefully around the entire window for any gaps — big or small — and fill them with putty caulk to seal out even more cold air.
Another inexpensive way to ensure your windows are protected against drafts and gusts of cold air is by wrapping them in plastic. You can buy pre-cut plastic sheet kits to fit just about any window. You can do the same with any sliding glass doors you won't be using in the winter for even more savings.
While you're sealing cold air leak culprits around the house, don't forget the bases of your exterior, basement or attic doors. Doorway draft stoppers (also called “snakes") are inexpensive and can help to block out incoming cold air and slow heat loss from your home. If you have any foam pool noodles collecting dust after the pool season ends, you can repurpose them as doorway draft stoppers too!
Take care of your heating equipment
One of the easiest ways to minimize your heating bills is to change your furnace filters consistently. Dirty or dusty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which in turn drives up your energy costs.
You should replace the filter about every 3 to 6 months based on the size of the filter. If your house tends to gather dust quickly, or if you have pets or you smoke, more frequent changes might be necessary. Although changing the furnace filter is an easy chore to do, it's also easy to forget. Write the installation date on the edge of the new filter or set a calendar reminder. Your wallet will thank you later!
Protect your water heater
Did you know that heating your water can make up nearly 20% of your energy bill? The colder the air around your hot water heater — as in basements or garages — the harder it will have to work and the more energy it will burn.
Start by checking the setting of your water heater thermostat. If you notice you get very hot water from your shower and faucets, it may be too high. Setting your water heater tank to the “medium" setting or around 120°F will give you a comfortable water temperature while helping to reduce your heating bill.
An insulation blanket is another easy and inexpensive way to keep your water heater from working too hard. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an insulated water tank could reduce heat losses by 25% to 45% and may save 7% to16% annually on water heating costs. You can find insulation blankets for water heaters starting at around $20.
Savings through Winter and Beyond.
At Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU) we want to help you keep more money in your pocket all year long! For more money-saving tips and advice, visit our online Education Center to find helpful financial worksheets, short interactive learning modules and information on upcoming financial educational events.