According to data reported in October 2023 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average U.S. natural gas bill is expected to decrease this winter (Nov. 2023 – Mar. 2024) compared to last year due, mainly due to lower natural gas prices — good news! But, there is always more you can do “on the ground,” in your own home, to save money on staying warm.
We’ve compiled six affordable DIY home projects you can do to improve your home’s heat retention and avoid inconveniences such as frozen pipes. Hopefully these simple updates will help you use less fuel and stay warm.
Before You Start
As a first step, see if your local utility company offers free home inspections for energy savings. If any issues are discovered in your home, you can plan some projects. There are plenty of resources online to help you DIY some fix-ups, or you can contact a local home improvement store to see if they offer in-person workshops.
But don’t wait too long. In many areas temperatures hit below the freezing mark in fall!
6 Ways to DIY a Warmer Winter
1. Plug Small Leaks
Feeling a chill? A good place to start looking for potential DIYs is to check for small gaps and crevices throughout your house, especially along doors and window sills. Those small gaps could cause a major rise in your heating bill.
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 $75
2. 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: $5 to $7, depending on style
3. Change Furnace Filters Monthly
During the cold months when the heater is increasingly in use, furnace filters 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: $10 to $40 per filter
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
Replacing windows with 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 to 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
$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)
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