by Courtney Soinski
As outdoor temperatures drop and home-heating costs are on the rise, it's now more important than ever to make sure your home is properly prepped for winter. Here are some cold weather tips and easy DIY projects to help save money and energy this winter:
- Attic: First, check to see if there is any missing or damaged insulation that can be readily replaced. A lower-cost alternative to block unwanted airflow is to place sheets of foam polystyrene plastic on top of existing insulation. You can also keep the cold air in the attic and out of the living area by installing some plastic foam weather stripping around the attic door.
- Fireplace: Although a fireplace is meant to heat a room, it often allows cold air to enter a house. An inexpensive product known as a "chimney pillow" or "fireplace plug" can reduce airflow when the fireplace isn't being used. After installation, the pillow's inflation tube hangs down into the fireplace as a reminder to remove it before lighting a fire in your living room.
- Windows & Doors: Make sure your home is properly insulated by inspecting doors, windows, and apply caulk or weather-stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. You should also close drapes, blinds and garage doors to preserve heat and prevent cold air from sneaking inside. There is a wide variety of low-cost weather stripping you can purchase that helps trap air, providing a barrier between indoors and out.
- Switches, Outlets & Ducts: Less obvious places that can waste energy are electrical switches and outlets. You can easily prevent air from sneaking in and out by placing pre-cut, inexpensive plastic foam insulation sheets behind switch and outlet covers. Check your home's unheated areas for leaks in heating ducts, including your basement, attic and garage. If you find leaks, they can be easily sealed with plastic caulks or polyurethane foam sealants. These low-cost products are designed to fill cracks and crevices while keeping away moisture and mildew.
Follow these energy and money saving tips for a cozy home this winter and all year round. Many homes have areas that are not properly sealed, letting warm air escape your home and allowing cold air to sneak in. Helping to seal these leaks in problem areas can provide a quick and easy return on time and money invested.