Winter is finally here. Before it even showed up officially, however, Texas was already feeling its effects. You know that when the Lone Star State is getting snow in November, you’re probably in for a long, frigid winter. For many, the winter means much higher electricity, gas, or oil bills than before.
That said, it’s a good idea to get your house ready for the cold, and the better you can insulate it, the warmer you’ll be and the fuller your wallet will stay. When your insulation work is shoddy, a lot of the money that you’re spending to keep that heater running is actually just being thrown out into the cold.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on winterizing your whole home, here are two quick fixes to get you 80% of the way there — the biggest bang for your buck.
Seal the cracks
Every home has a certain amount of natural air exchange with the outdoors (in fact, it’s a requirement). This means that, over the course of a few hours, all of the inside air in your home will be replaced with fresh air from outside. But you don’t want that turnover to be too fast, and sealing up the cracks will help you retain the air you’ve paid to warm up.
The two most obvious places to fix leaks are windows (especially old ones) and doors. Check around each window in your home for places where the air seems colder than it should be. If possible, fill gaps with insulation (the same kind you’d put in the attic) and caulk the space between the window frame and the wall to seal it up. If you know you won’t be opening your windows, you can buy a sort of shrink wrap for them to act as a second barrier — rather like having double pane windows — that will help keep the cold air outside.
Also, check each of your doors to make sure that the weather stripping is doing its job. You shouldn’t feel a draft at all, and if you can see light coming in through the crack in your door during the day, you need to replace the strips. They’ll give you the biggest return on your investment.
Hot air rises, so make sure that your attic is well-insulated. You can do this yourself or, better yet, hire trained professionals to ensure that your home insulation job is done right. Remember, you should have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic regardless of where your home is. One easy way to tell if you have enough is to look for the joists. If you can see them, you don’t have enough insulation, as joists are only about 10 inches tall.
If your floors tend to run cold, you may need to insulate your crawl space or basement ceiling, as well. Further, if there is a particular spot that is colder than the rest, there is even more reason to suppose that you need extra insulation.
The above methods are probably the two most important ways you can recover the majority of your lost heating costs for the least amount of money. Of course, if you have the money, you can get quality replacement windows or even have a contractor visit, check your ducts, and see where you’re losing the most heat. Either way, by simply updating your insulation and sealing up the cracks, you’re already doing a lot more than before to keep warm this winter.