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Have I ever told you how much I hate the cold? No? Well I do and I’m not talking a dislike. I absolutely despise being cold. I moved to Texas to get away from the cold, but even though this is Texas, it still gets cold! Sure, we don’t have temps anywhere near what they get up north, but we do fall into the teens; especially here in North Texas. Even though I know it gets a lot colder in other parts of the country, I also know how much colder temps here can jump my electric bill. If you live in a colder climate, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. The easiest way to combat those high electric costs is by plugging any air leaks in your home that could be causing you to spend more money than you need. If your household budget is failing and you’re trying to figure out why, making sure to plug these expensive energy leaks will help that situation a tad bit by helping you save money.
I know that a lot of us don’t really think about how our homes are leaking air. The sad part is that by not thinking about it, we are leaving ourselves open not only to higher heating bills, but higher cooling bills. Here in Texas, those cooling bills are incredibly important during the summer. When you plug air leaks to save money, you’re not only saving money on heating costs, but you’ll save on those cooling costs too. It’s a win/win situation so it doesn’t make much sense to me that more people aren’t doing it.
Energy Leaks to Plug Before Winter That Will Save Money
When I was thinking about the different energy leaks that most homes have, I tried to include ones that aren’t immediately obvious. We all know what the obvious ones are, but it is usually the ones we don’t think about that cost the most. The little air leaks that let in colder air in the winter cause your furnace to have to work over time in order to keep your house warm. When this happens, you pay more for energy costs no matter if you use natural gas or electric to heat.
Sealing your door jams – We all know that door jams often need resealed but making sure it gets done before winter is super important. By adding weather striping like THIS, you seal the door so that it closes fully and doesn’t allow air to come in through any cracks between the doors helping to keep your home warmer and your bill lower.
Bottom of your doors – In addition to sealing cracks around the frame of the door, make certain to take a look at the bottom of your doors. Most people don’t look down there often so they don’t realize there is a huge crack there. The simplest way to fix this is to tightly fold a blanket up against the bottom of the door to block drafts. You can also buy a draft blocker like THIS or if you really wanted to, simply replace the entire door.
Sealing Windows – Windows are a big culprit in letting in cold air when the temperatures drop and it isn’t all because of cracks. First, you will want to make certain that you fill any cracks between the windowsill and frame and the wall of the house. You can fill these easily by picking up weather striping like THIS or a can of Great Stuff like THIS. Yes, that is what it is actually called. The second reason windows can be an energy leak is because cold radiates off the glass and leaks into your home. Have you ever gotten close to cold glass? You can feel it several feet away if it is cold enough. To help keep this from making your home cooler, you’ll want to insulate the window.
The best way to insulate your windows is to pick up a roll or two of bubble wrap like THESE and a roll or two of Visqueen plastic sheeting that is at least 4 mils thick like THIS. Once you have the windowsill energy leaks filled, add a layer of bubble wrap against the glass. Once that is done, cover it with a layer (or two if you want to be very diligent) of Visqueen. The bubble wrap will help keep any air that may still be seeping through the window out and the plastic sheeting will help keep the glass from radiating cold into the room.
Finally, finish the whole shebang off with thermal curtains like THESE. They will help block any energy leaks that do happen to still get through as well as help hold heat away from the window itself. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is an incredibly efficient way to save money.
Seal your dryer vent to save money – Most people don’t realize it, but the vent that leads from your dryer outside can actually allow air to come in around it if it isn’t installed correctly. This is where having a can of Great Stuff on hand can come in handy. Use it to fill any holes between the vent and the wall and you’ll keep air from coming in.
Close off unused rooms to save money – If you have a larger house and you have rooms that are not used for anything – or are only used for storage – shut them up for the winter. They aren’t being used for your family so it won’t hurt not having access to them. Seal up the windows and shut the door. Once the door is shut, cover it with bubble wrap and visqueen. It will get cold in there so you want to make sure that you don’t allow any air or cold to radiate into your home from that room. Be sure to use a draft blocker or towel at the bottom of the door as well.
Close off heating vents if possible – Most homes have more heating vents than are needed. While this is great if you’re cold, it can often lead to uneven distribution of heat meaning it takes more energy to fully heat a room. Instead, close off your energy leaks. In rooms that aren’t used as often, or in rooms that you have shut off, close off heating vents. Most rooms have at least 2 vents in them which means that seldom used rooms can get by with one. If you’re not using it everyday or for very long each day, why pay to heat the room fully? One vent will keep it warm enough to do what you need to do and you’ll save money by routing that warm air elsewhere.
The garage – If you have a door leading to your garage from inside your home, make certain that it has new weather stripping. Your garage is not heated so having any issues with that door will let cold air into your home. You’ll also want to make sure that your actual garage door closes properly too. If not, it could allow more air to come into your home as the wind blows outside.
The basement – Like the garage, your basement is an energy leak so you’ll want to do what you can with it to help yourself save money. This could be anything from sealing up basement windows with plastic sheeting to closing off the entire basement and sealing the door with plastic sheeting. The temperature under ground tends to be 10-15° cooler than the temperature above ground which means your basement could really be causing your home to be cold. If your home doesn’t have a basement, it has a crawlspace. The same thing goes for this area.
The Attic – Like the basement, your attic can also be a major energy leak that is costing you money. To start, make sure that any windows your attic may have are properly sealed like the others in your home. Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that your insulation in the attic is done properly. Rodents and other pests can create nests within in. If you have that issue, your insulation has probably been torn up and is no longer as effective as it should be. Since having insulation blown can be a complicated (and expensive) issue, use a service such as Amazon Home to find a reputable contractor to do the job.
Seal Loose Outlets – This is one of those energy leaks that most people won’t notice, but take a look at the outlets in your home. Are they flush to the wall or do they have a small crack between the wall and the outlet? If they’re not flush, they could be – and most likely are – letting in air. Tighten them down or replace them as needed and you’ll seal that energy leak to save money.
Check for leaky pipes – I don’t mean pipes that are leaking water. Water and natural gas pipes are often not insulated well where they come into the house. These gaps in insulation mean that they can be a major energy leak that can cost you quite a bit of money. Use a can of Great Stuff or hire a professional to fill these gaps and air leaks. This one is especially important if you live in a mobile home.
Seal Leaky Cable Connections – Like outlets and pipes, where the cable for your tv – why are you still paying for cable when you could be watching tv for free – and your internet comes into the house can also leak air. Again, make sure these areas are properly insulated.
Your stove’s exhaust fan is an energy leak – Don’t get me wrong. I love my exhaust fan. It keeps the smoke alarm from singing the song of my people, but at the same time it can be a huge energy leak. Stick your hand up around it to see if you can feel any warm air. If so, it is leaking air into your home. Make sure you get it sealed up before winter to help keep your home warmer.
Your kitchen cabinets could be at fault – I will never forget the day I figured out my kitchen cabinets were the reason my kitchen was always so cold. I was standing at the sink barefoot and could feel cold air coming in from beneath the house. At the time, we lived in a house with a pier and beam foundation which meant no basement and our home was held several feet off the ground by wooden beams. This created an air tunnel essentially and since it was an older home, we were getting cold air coming in through the bottom row of kitchen cabinets. To check yours, run your foot along the cabinets in your home. If you can feel any kind of temperature change, you’ll want to take a look at it before winter.
Holes in the wall can be energy leaks – If you have kids, chances are you have at least one accidental hole in a wall somewhere. These holes can be energy leaks, especially if your insulation isn’t done correctly. Filling a hole isn’t hard and the cost of filling it will be a whole lot cheaper than heating the room with a hole if it gets too cold.
Your furnace is an energy leak – Finally, take a look at your furnace and make sure it is properly maintained. An improperly maintain furnace means one thing – a money leak. You can save money by making sure it and any air intake vents have new air filters, by making sure it is mechanically sound and by installing a programmable thermostat like THIS one. This is by far the most important thing for you to do when you’re trying to save money by plugging energy leaks. If you only choose one thing on this list to do, make sure it is this one.