If you moved over the summer, this is your first winter in your house. Take the time to check how weatherproof your house is, and to fix gaps around doors, windows, outlets, and more locations. A drafty, leaky house can add 15% or more to your winter heating bills, and with a colder than average winter predictions for much of the country, that could be a lot of money. Here are some quick tips for reducing drafts and making your home more energy efficient.
Fix Window Drafts and Leaks.
Windows, especially in older homes, are a prime source of drafts and heat loss. Make sure your storm windows are properly installed and close fully. Seal any gaps or cracks with silicone caulk. Remove any window air conditioning units, as the vents on the unit will let cold air in. Apply weather stripping to the bottom of old wooden windows to ensure there are no gaps between the sill and the bottom of the window frame.
Plastic sheeting, and drapes or shades are also options for stopping heat loss through older, 1-pane windows. Make sure plastic sheeting is air tight. Heavy drapes or honeycomb cellular shades can also stop drafts and reduce heat loss. Close drapes and lower shades at night to keep warm air in, but open them in the mornings to take advantage of passive solar energy.
Fix Drafty Doors
Make sure storm door windows are completely closed and that the doors close completely, with no gaps between the door and the frame. Then check your house doors; again, there should be no gaps between the door and doorframe. Find drafts by moving a lit candle around the frame; if the candle flickers, you have drafts that need to be patched with silicon caulk or buy using weather stripping. You may want to replace an old threshold with a newer, insulated version to stop leaks along the bottom of the door.
Your outlets and light switches are essentially a hole in the wall. If they’re uninsulated, they can be source of heat loss or cold drafts. Outlet insulation kits are precut foam insulators that fit behind your wall or switch plates. You can also cut your own, but be sure to use fire retardant foam to reduce the risk of an electrical fire.
Use a Water Heater Blanket
An insulating water heater blanket will reduce heat loss from your water heater tank, saving money on your energy bills. How much money? Installing a water heater blanket could reduce heat loss by 25-45%.
Insulate Attics and Attic Crawlspaces
Adding insulation to your attic will reduce heat loss from the roof of your house, and help keep your downstairs warm and comfortable. Installing insulation may be more expensive than the other options, but it will have the greatest return on investment. You may be able to save money on the installation by doing it yourself.