Fall is just around the corner, which means frigid temperatures and heaps of snow and ice aren't much further away. Take advantage of these last few weeks of warmth and begin winterizing your house now.
Dealing with drafts
Gaps around your doors, windows and walls allow cold air to seep into your home, making for high gas bills and chilly days indoors. Fight back against the icy onslaught by identifying and treating these areas before they begin costing money. To seal up the gaps that often form underneath doors, make a simple draft snake that slides under. These can save a lot of money on utilities by preventing warm air from escaping. Consider getting storm windows or sealing gaps around them with special caulk to really crack down on drafts. Plastic wrap for windows also makes for a cost-effective treatment for pesky drafts.
Upgrade your furnace
If you spent all of last winter wearing your coat inside, it might be time to bring your furnace into the 21st century. To see if it's a wise investment, do some research on your current unit. This Old House recommends looking at the furnace's efficiency rating and comparing it to a new one you might want to buy. Switching from a furnace that's 80 percent efficient to one rated at 97 percent, for example, could save as much as $3,000 in gas bills. If you aren't prepared to make such an investment, though, there are easier, cheaper ways to restore your furnace. According to The Washington Post, the most common is upgrading the filter, which should be done once a month during the peak of winter. This will improve airflow and make for a warmer house using less gas. Some filters require less frequent replacement, but are usually more expensive.
Install roof heating cables
Snow and ice accumulating on your roof can lead to water damage and mold growth, both very costly issues to fix. To prevent this, consider investing a little time into installing heating cables on your roof. The process is easier than you may think, and will prevent major headaches come spring. The cables can be placed in gutters as well to further assist the flow of melted ice and snow off of your roof. Install these cables before it gets cold and you'll be glad you planned ahead.
Adjust water and thermostat settings
Perhaps the biggest utility expenses of the year come from heating your home and the water you use in the winter. According to Popular Mechanics, every degree on a thermostat could account for 1 to 3 percent of your heating costs. Try to keep your thermostat between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months to maximize energy efficiency. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it lower at night and throw on an extra blanket or two while sleeping. Just make sure to keep it above 60 degrees in order to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. You can also turn down your hot water temperature to save even more. Many are set at 140 degrees by default, but most people can get by with 120 or less. A small change goes a long way on your monthly bill.
Consider new insulation
A great deal of the heat in your home ends up lost through a poorly insulated attic. Some of the largest energy savings can be had from good insulation of this area, although this can be a difficult project to perform yourself. Any effort or money put into it will prove beneficial in the form of lower heating bills, which makes this a very cost-effective job. As noted on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, you may qualify for financial assistance toward getting this work done. Check your eligibility in your state's Weatherization Assistance Program to see if you qualify. Once you get your attic insulated, you'll notice your furnace clicking on less often and a little more cash in your wallet. Even better, these savings will continue for years, and leave you comfortable in your home year-round. Consider a home inspection to ensure this process has been done correctly.