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7 Frugal Ways to Winterize Your Home

By on October 12, 2015
7 Frugal Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home is all about keeping the cold air out and the warm air in. You can save money by making sure your home is in good physical condition, but also by altering your habits to lower your heating bills. While you could spend an arm and a leg making sure your house is in good shape for winter, staying warm and cozy doesn’t have to cost much. Additionally, any investments you make will pay off in savings on your energy expenses this winter and for winters to come.

1. Maintain Your Home

The old cliché “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is applicable when it comes to home winterization. Keep your home and your heating and cooling systems in good shape year-round to save you money.

Inspect the seals around your doors and windows, and if necessary, apply caulk to keep the cold winter air out. Winterize the A/C unit in your home so that it leaks as little air as possible. If you have a window unit, remove it for the winter. If you can’t remove it, put an insulated cover over it to block drafts. If an insulated cover is beyond your budget, enclose it securely into a heavy, black trash bag.

Make sure your furnace or heating system is in good working order by inspecting and cleaning all ducts and filters. Clogged ducts and filters aren’t just a fire hazard, they interfere with the system’s energy efficiency, ultimately costing you money. The dirtier the ducts and filters on your heating system, the harder the system has to work, which uses more power.

2. Upgrade Your Thermostat

While your thermostat might work just fine, a programmable thermostat can save you money in the long run. Newer programmable thermostats allow you to create custom profiles that automatically lower your heat at night or during those times when you know you won’t be home.

Some thermostats even allow you to access them from your phone, meaning if you forgot to turn the heat down before you left to go to work, you can do it at the click of a button.

While the upfront cost of installing a programmable thermostat may seem hefty, it pays for itself in time and energy savings.

3. Block the Drafts

Even if you’ve sealed up your windowsills and door frames with caulk, there are probably additional openings where cold air gains entrance. If you can’t DIY a fix or afford a professional contractor to remedy the problem, there are a couple frugal ways to minimize heat loss and keep the cold air outdoors where it belongs.

Draft blockers, placed along the bottom of doors and windows, work well to stop the cold air from coming in. While there are commercially available options, you can make your own by stuffing an old sock with polyester fiberfill, beans, PVC beads or anything else that packs tightly enough to stop airflow.

Quilted or heavy lined curtains also help keep cold air out. If you are loathe to pay upwards of $50 for one curtain, consider raiding your linen closet or the thrift store for quilts and quilted curtains that you can repurpose. Even a bedsheet makes a handy curtain liner when cut to fit and sewn to the back of a curtain.

If you aren’t handy with a sewing machine, just attach clip-on curtain tabs to your quilts and hang them that way. If the aesthetics are displeasing, sandwich the quilts between two curtains to hide them.

4. Work with the Sun

The sun is a free source of heat and light, even during the coldest months of the year. Open your drapes during the warmest part of the day and close them before the sun starts to set. If you’ve got your seals caulked and draft-blockers in place, your heat loss from the window should be minimal. You’ll save on both your heating and lighting bills, so you’ve got little to lose by using the sun during the warmest part of the day.

5. Heat Yourself, Not Your Space

Instead of heating all of the air in your home, heat the only the rooms that are usually occupied. Alternatively, you can easily minimize the number of rooms you use during the day. You could, for example, move your computer from your home office into your living room. Not only will the heat from the computer help heat your living room, you can close off your office and add draft blockers around the door to keep heat from leaking into that room when it’s not in use.

Block off all bedrooms and close the vents. Open the vents when you’re getting ready for bed, or consider using alternative heat sources like a hot water bottle between the sheets or a heating pad.

6. Wear Warm Winter Clothes

While wearing your sweaters and slippers indoors isn’t strictly a frugal way to winterize your home, it will allow you to keep the thermostat set lower, thereby saving on your heating bills. No one expects you to wear a parka in your home, but keep the thermostat set low enough so wearing a sweater or an extra layer of clothing will keep you comfortable.

7. Harness the Heat from Your Activities

Unless you order out a lot (and if you do, you should stop: it isn’t frugal!), chances are good that you use your oven or stove on a regular basis. Take the cold as the perfect excuse to bake, cook and putter around in the kitchen to your heart’s content. Warm foods will keep you warm and the ambient heat from your stove or oven can help heat up your home.

Drink warm liquids throughout the day — even a teacup gives off enough heat to warm your hands while you sit at the computer or watch television, allowing you to turn the thermostat down a degree or two. Even a few glowing candles around a room create a small rise in temperature that’s helpful if you’re already utilizing them for their aroma or general ambience.

Consider leaving the bathroom door open after you shower, so the hot air and humidity can help warm the rest of the house.

By using the heat from the activities you’re already engaging in, you can cut your power bill and keep your home warm and cozy during the winter months.

The Final Word

No matter what steps you take to winterize your home, doing something is ultimately better than doing nothing. Keeping an eye on your habits and your home will save you money that will add up over the course of a long, cold season. Every saved dollar counts, so keep your eyes open for chances to improve the warmth in your home.

Frugal Village

2 Comments

  1. deborah

    10/19/2015 at 11:23 am

    If you don’t have little ones running around in the kitchen, crack your oven door after baking to allow the excess heat to help warm the room. You would be surprised how much this helps on a cold day.

    Apply Bubble Wrap to the inside of windows with a spritz of water. It really helps to keep the cold out.

    Enclose a covered porch with plastic sheeting each heating season. This not only helps stop cold winds from hitting the home but also can become a passive solar collector on sunny days. Just leave the door open to allow the heat buildup into the home.

    Make a passive solar collector with aluminum cans or expandable, aluminum, dryer vent. Do a search for instructions for many different builds.

    • Therese

      1/4/2016 at 8:13 pm

      I live in a one bedroom apartment by myself. Not much I can do. But…I do use the bubble wrap on the windows. And my apt. is also all electric, so I shut fuses off when I don’t need them… dishwasher,stove,hot water heater… It only takes about 20 minutes to heat water. I mainly use my microwave. Also, I unplug my TV when i’m not at home.

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