5 ways to winterize your home and get immediate results
Home winterization is one do-it-your-self project that is relatively easy and inexpensive, and you can see immediate results. According to Energy Star, you can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs by properly insulating and sealing air leaks. Consider the following tips to make your home a little cozier this winter.
1. Reverse the ceiling fan
Most modern ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction of the blades. Setting the fan to operate in a clockwise direction will push warm furnace air up toward the ceiling and then down the walls to ground level. Since your thermostat monitors room temperature closer to ground level, it should provide a more accurate reading of the actual room temperature, which should help your system work more efficiently. This simple trick is easy, effective and inexpensive.
2. Replace your HVAC filter
A clogged furnace filter will cause your system to work overtime, and it recycles dirty air through the house. A furnace filter is easy to replace and typically costs $5 to $20. Change the filter once a month for optimal performance.
3. Add weatherstripping and caulk
Check around window and door frames and fill gaps with caulk. Use your hands to feel for cold air around the door jamb and windowsill. You can purchase foam or vinyl weatherstripping for $5 to $10 to attach to the closing edges of doors and windows.
You can also purchase a door sweep to seal the gap between the bottom of a door and the threshold. A sweep is a plastic or rubber seal on a metal strip that can be attached directly to the door. Door sweeps typically range in price from $5 to $20.
Consider hiring a handyman to seal up gaps or to install weatherstripping in your home. Most handymen have experience with home winterization and will charge a flat, hourly rate for the job.
Insulation plays a major role in keeping cold air out during the winter so consider adding new insulation or upgrading your existing insulation. Ideally, a home should have insulation in the walls, floors and attic. Insulation is rated by its ability to resist heat flow, which is referred to as its R-value. The higher the R-value, the more effective it will be at blocking heat flow.
A professional energy auditor can inspect your home home for all points of heat loss, and assess the efficiency of your insulation. An auditor might use an infrared camera to check your walls and floors for cold spots, or perform a blower door test, which involves lowering indoor air pressure and using a smoke stick to see where air leaks. A professional energy audit can cost between $300 and $800, but many utilities offer free or discounted audits or incentives to have them done.
5. Seal air ducts
Air ducts are responsible for channeling warm air from your furnace to different parts of the home. According to Energy Star, about 20 percent of the air is lost due to cracks, leaks and faulty connection points. Air loss in your ducts can make it difficult to heat your home, and cause utility bills to soar.
If you have flexible ducts, look for areas that appear twisted or tangled. Use metal tape to repair cracks in the ducts. For joints, use a mastic sealant and metal screws to fasten them back together. If you have ducts in your attic, garage or an unheated part of the home, consider wrapping them in insulation.
Hire an HVAC expert to assess the efficiency of your air ducts.
For more information, visit the Angie's List Guide to Winterizing your Home.