Cold weather is affecting much of the country, bringing snow, sleet, ice and raging cold winds. While this may — or may not (we hope) — be a harbinger of a tough winter, homeowners should prepare their homes for the months ahead.
A good place to start is to check for small gaps and crevices throughout the house, especially along doors and window sills. Those small gaps could cause a major rise in your heating bill. Luckily, you can tackle this and the following six inexpensive winterizing projects in a single weekend to potentially lower your heating costs by up to 20% this winter.
1. Change Furnace Filters Monthly
During the cold months, when the heater is increasingly in use, furnace filters can get dirty faster, restricting airflow and increasing energy demand in the process. Many homeowners prefer pleated filters as their increased surface area can capture more air particulates. And there’s a bonus benefit to replacing your filters more frequently — cleaner, healthier air will be circulating in your home.
Estimated time: 15 minutes, estimated cost: $6 to $30 per filter
2. Plug Small Leaks
Cracks (less than 1/4-inch wide) found by windows and door frames, plumbing fixtures and pipes, and even ceiling fixtures can be patched up with a caulk gun. Weather stripping or a window film kit can be used around movable joints, especially windows and doors to eliminate drafts.
Estimated time: 15 minutes to two hours depending on home size, estimated cost: under $50
3. Add Insulation behind Outside Wall Receptacles and Electrical Devices
Kits are available with insulated foam forms that replicate your outlet receptacle shapes. By removing the plate and adding the foam insulation behind each one, you can prevent heat loss through the outlet and switch covers. Just take the screws off the plates to remove, put an insulation strip behind the plates, and screw back into the wall to properly seal them from the cold.
Estimated time: one to two minutes per plate, estimated cost: $3 to $5 depending on style
4. Insulate Pipes
If you have a basement or an older home with water pipes on the exterior walls, insulating those pipes can prevent the water flowing through from freezing and bursting the pipe — which could lead to structural damage and a hefty repair bill. Foam pipe insulation looks like a giant straw with a slit down the length so you can cut it and wrap around the pipe.
Estimated time: 20 minutes to one hour, estimated cost: $3 to $5 per pipe
5. Disconnect Hoses and Cover Water Spigots
If the winter regularly brings freezing cold to where you live, use insulated bonnets to cover outdoor water spigots. This stops the cold wind from blowing directly on the spigot that could lead to that spigot freezing and cracking a pipe.
Estimated time: one minute to install, estimated cost: $6 each
6. Install Plastic Window Treatments and Consider Storm Doors or Windows
Upgrading to double pane vinyl windows can cost a lot of money up front — they usually run $500 per window — but they help in reducing energy usage during the colder months. A cheaper alternative is to cover single-pane windows with a window kit or use weather stripping to seal them.
A storm door can increase energy efficiency by sealing drafts and reducing air flow, but this may require hiring a professional to install it. Storm windows can be fabricated to the sizes needed to cover single-pane windows for about $125 per opening.
Estimated time: one to two hours, estimated cost: $12 to $15 for a two-window kit, $200 to $300 for a storm door and $125 per window ($50 to $100 per hour for professional installation if needed)
We’re Here to Help
Whether you’re planning a major upgrade or are thinking about buying or refinancing your home, there are several types of loans to consider. AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS) is ready to assist you. You’ll get an honest and fair assessment of your mortgage options from industry professionals who understand military life and have years of experience handling many different mortgage products.
Our mission is to ensure you obtain a low-cost and low-rate mortgage to build, buy or refinance your home. We want to make sure you get the right mortgage to meet your needs. Get a free mortgage assessment today!