Even in the middle of winter, you can slash your energy bills without sacrificing comfort. These tips can cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more, and none takes more than 30 minutes to complete. Plus, the materials are mostly inexpensive to buy and install, so you’ll see a quick return on your investment.
Replace Worn Weatherstripping
Some weatherstripping needs to be replaced every few years because of wear. Replacing it is typically as simple as pulling off the old and tacking on the new.
Adjust Door Thresholds
Some thresholds have four or five screws that let you adjust the height to eliminate a gap. Turn the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is mostly gone. A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door. And the door shouldn’t drag on the threshold or it’ll wear out the weatherstripping.
Eliminate Drafts Around Electrical Boxes
To stop the leaks, remove the cover plates and fill small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. For large gaps, use foam sealant. Then place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch and replace the cover plate. The gaskets cost about $1.10 for a two-pack. “The gasket is going to save you money for as long as that outlet is in your house,” Rogers says. “That small investment pays off for as long as you own your home.”
Plug Holes in Exterior Walls
Seal the gaps with expanding foam. For water pipes under the sink, unscrew and pull back the escutcheon ring, then caulk around the pipe. “The ring is just decorative,” Rogers says. “It’s not going to block airflow.”
Buy a Portable Heater (and Turn Down the Furnace)
Of course, you have to buy the heater and use electricity, which cuts into the overall savings. Portable heaters start at about $30, and an electric heater that uses 1500 watts will cost you 14 cents per hour, based on a rate of 8.14 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Nebraska Public Power District. Still, the savings from reducing the furnace temperature should offset the cost of using the space heater and then some.
Cover Windows and Patio Doors with Plastic Film
The transparent film is inexpensive; you can find it for about $6 for 62 x 84 inches at home centers. The film is simple to put on and won’t harm your trim, and if you put it on correctly you’ll barely notice it. In the spring, the film comes off easily.
Keep Warm Air from Escaping Up the Chimney
Blow up the balloon and stick it in the chimney. If you forget to take it out before you start a fire, the balloon automatically deflates, so it won’t cause the house to fill with smoke. However, be advised that the balloons can become sooty and hard to manage after repeated uses.
Insulate the Attic Access Door
To ensure that the door blocks airflow, use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door. And if the door won’t lie flat, use a latch bolt system to close it tight.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
The U.S. Department of Energy says that you can knock 10 percent off your yearly heating and cooling expenses by turning the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. And don’t believe the oft-repeated notion that the furnace needs to work harder to warm up the house after the temperature is set low, which would negate your savings. It’s a myth—you do save money.