House in winter

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, winter has either waltzed its way into town or is on its merry way. The good news is that if you’re concerned about the extra expense that winter hauls along with it, you still have time to prepare. The better news is that by properly prepping your home for cold weather, you’ll save money in the process. The best news? If you follow these tips for winterizing your home, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint and do your part in creating a greener environment.

Fill the gaps

Did you know that the typical American home has enough air gaps to equal the size of a 3-by-3-foot hole? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the easiest way to keep the cold air out and the warm air in is to seal up air leaks. Attach door sweeps to the bottoms of doors that lead outside, use window putty to patch gaps around loose window panes and install weather stripping around drafty windows and doors for an airtight seal (Read more about air sealing your home in AIR LEAKAGE: Air seal your home, downsize your A/C and save big!).

image: Sharon Mollerus (Flickr)

Light it up

Before you fire up that fireplace, check to be sure that the seal on the flue is as snug as possible. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends also installing tempered glass doors and an air exchange system that circulates warm air back into the room. If you choose not to use your fireplace, close the damper so that warm air does not escape up the chimney.

Let the sunshine in

Draw open those curtains and let the warmth of the sun naturally heat your home during the day. Grommet curtains offer stylish options to complement most decors. Even if you have blinds or shades, be sure to close the curtains at night to further reduce the chill from cold windows.

Schedule a tune-up

Just like your car, your furnace needs a seasonal tune-up for peak performance, and maybe even more important for diminishing the chances of it going on the blink in the dead of winter. Call your local heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) provider to schedule a maintenance check-up. Outside of the standard maintenance items, Energy Star also recommends having the technician check all gas connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger parts to ensure safety and efficiency.

String up the lights

By all means, deck your home out in holiday lights, but rather than the conventional twinkling lights, opt for the LED Energy Star qualified decorative light stings. Not only do LED lights consume 65 percent less energy than incandescent lights but they can last up to 10 times longer.

Adjust for comfort

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by strategically adjusting your thermostat throughout the day, you’ll save about 10 percent annually on your utilities bill. Set the temp as low as comfortable while you’re home and dial it back 10 to 15 degrees while you’re out or sleeping. Better yet, invest in a programmable thermostat if you haven’t already, so as to automate the adjustments.

[box]Stacy Simpson is working towards her masters in urban sustainability. When grad school isn’t ruling her life, she likes to blog about local green initiatives.[/box]
image:  UIC Digital Collections (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA)
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