5 More Ways To Prepare Your Home For The Winter

by Jon Dulin

The following post is by MSG staff writer, Shondell of Call Me What You Want, Even Cheap. She blogs about her recent car loan and mortgage pay off of over $95k and a whole bunch more. Check out her blog right here.

It’s almost a postcard scene: a front yard covered in white, frosted windows, and the crackling sound in your place. Of course, this is far off from happening if you have not prepared your home for the winter season. You can actually end up with the brutal cold seeping under your doorway or the heavy snow causing a problem with the trees on your yard. With five simple ways, you can turn your house into a winter wonderland. Here are 5 ways to prepare your home for the winter. (You can read 5 other tips for preparing your home for winter as well.)

1. Insulate your attic

This is probably the most important tip. It’s not rocket science to fight off the cool temperature with warmth through insulation. The attic is the easiest place to add insulation. By adding 12 to 15 inches of insulation in your attic, you can prevent the low temperature from transferring into the rest of the house. An average-size house would possibly cost $500 for the installation of insulation. You can even install these yourselves which would take about two to three hours.

2. Seal your house

Your insulation will be useless if the warm air can easily leak outside. Check for open holes around your house by holding up a lit candle around common trouble spots. If the candle flickers, then there is a change in the air and the cold temperature can seep in from those spots. These areas include the window frames, door frames, vents to your dryer, baseboards, and spaces around your air conditioning system.

Aside from sealing off these spots, you should also change those already sealed off ones. Seals around ducts deteriorate over time and needs regular maintenance. You can seal visible ducts in the attic and basement by yourself by using a roll of HVAC foil tape to tape around the joints. Bigger holes would need a fiberglass weave and a water-based mastic air duct sealant. For more complicated duct work inside the walls, you may need to hire a technician.

3. Wrap your heater

You should also wrap your water heater during winter. For a cost of $25 and time duration of 30 minutes, you can buy and install fiberglass and a plastic insulating blanket on your heater. This can minimize the energy consumption of your water heater to less than the average 14 to 25 percent.

4. Clear your filters

You need your central air system to be working in top shape during the winter. Dirty and clogged air filters will cause the system to work overtime in maintaining the heat in your house. Not only will it consume more energy and more money, but also easily wear off causing you to have it prematurely repaired or changed. To help, change your filters every three months.

5. Insulate light switches

From the previous tips, you should have observed one main task—seal the holes. Light switches and outlet covers are also conduits of these holes. Though they’re thin plastic covers, cold air can easily get through the holes behind the cover. Install foam gaskets under the light switch and outlets to solve this problem.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle November 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

I got an infrared thermometer for Christmas a couple of years ago and that thing is great at finding leaks. You just run it over your walls and around your windows, and sudden drops in temp will alert you to where you have issues. By using this, I found an issue where one of the ceiling fans had been installed with a small gap up into the attic, which was allowing heat to escape in the winter (and hot air to be drawn down from the attic while the fan was running during the summer). Fixing this with about $0.03 worth of insulation made an instant difference and has probably paid for the device (typically around $40) many times over.
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John S @ Frugal Rules November 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

Good tips! My wife and I were discussing this the other night for our house. Taking care of your filters is very important and if left alone it could eventually do some serious damage to the system.
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Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet November 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

We live in AZ so our winter is different than most. Great tips regardless!
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Christian L. November 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Shondell,
Even putting up the plastic sheeting on my windows saves me and my roommates money. I also bought a heated blanket so we don’t have to blast the heat and overspend on our gas bill. I highly suggest heated blankets even if you have a good HVAC system. They’re a great investment.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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Sara Fargoons December 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

If you’ve ever replaced a light switch or outlet cover, you probably noticed the gaping hole in the wall behind that cover. The problem is, those thin plastic covers don’t provide a great barrier and cold air can get through that hole into your house. To combat the cold leaks, install foam gaskets underneath your light switch and outlet covers. You can pick up pre-cut foam covers that will fit around electrical receptacles and light switches at hardware stores (about $2 for a set of eight). Since they’re pre-cut, you just need to unscrew the cover, pop the foam cover on, and reattach the light switch or outlet cover plate. Finally, don’t forget to reverse your fans. During the summer, your ceiling fans should run counterclockwise, which pulls the air down toward you. During the winter reverse the ceiling fan’s direction by flipping the toggle switch on the base of the fan. Run on a low setting – the fan will draw cool air from the floor up toward the ceiling, making the room feel warmer.

Regards
Sara Fargoons
Investment due diligence

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