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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New Home Week: Winterizing Your Home In One Day

This morning I found myself standing in front of my new house watching the first snowfall of the year, wondering what the heck I could do to make the place more efficient in the winter. That's right, I'm talking about winterizing. And it’s a good time to think about this as higher heating bills and higher fuel prices are on their way.

With that in mind, I am trying to use a total home approach - to look at areas where heat may escape or not be used efficiently:

Insulation Inspection
Since warm air rises, the single most effective way to save on heating is to have healthy attic insulation. If you don't know how to judge such a thing, look for your ceiling joists. If you can see them, you need more insulation. Annual saving: maybe even up to $150 to $200!

Plug Outside Gaps
Another of your main goals is to keep the cold air out. Simply inspect the exterior of your home and seal up all the cracks or gaps with caulk, especially around windows and outdoor faucets as they can let in a tremendous amount of cold air. Yearly saving: could be up to $100.

Stop Inside Leaks
Now, it's time to seal up the inside of the home. Cracks around windows, on perimeter walls and around electrical outlets on exterior walls can lose a lot of warm air. Once you have caulked the cracks, turn your attention to drafty, inefficient windows. If new windows are not in your budget, use a window insulation kit. They are easy to install and quite effective. Annual saving: you'd be surprised as it could add up to $60 to $80.

Maximize Your Heating System
If possible, have a professional inspect your heating system every year to ensure that it is operating properly. Cleaning or replacing your filters is a great way to boost the amount of heat produced. Another way to save money is by using a setback thermostat - heat your home when you are there but let the temperature drop a little when you are out or asleep. It is quite a bit less expensive to heat your home back up than it is to keep it at the same temperature all day long. Annual saving: if my calculations are correct, $150 to $200.

Keep your Hot Water Hot
More savings can be realized by wrapping a water heater blanket around your water heater and insulating your water pipes. Annual saving: about $25 or so.

Thanks to the CBS Early Show and Danny Lipford for the tips!
Photo credit: BBC

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