Home Improvement: 3 Ways to Prevent Sky-High Utility Costs This Winter
We are still a few months away, but the earlier you start preparing for the cold season, the better. Winter seasons are often characterized by high energy consumption, and now is probably the best time to start thinking about ways to cut down the cold weather utility costs.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, about 50 percent of homes in the US use natural gas for heating during cold seasons. One of the biggest challenges for these homes is the sky high heating costs they have to endure during winter. However, there are some tips homeowners can utilize to control the costs of energy in the winter and save money. Here are three of them:
Install Better Windows
Replacing windows is one of the most worthwhile home improvements you can make before winter. Old, thin, single pane windows don’t do much to keep out the cold air. If your windows have been around longer than anyone can remember, it’s probably time to replace them. Energy-Star rated windows and specialty storm windows recommended by professionals like Valley Glass Utility can provide great insulation in your home and keep that precious warm air inside. This means lower utility costs and a nice cosmetic change to boot.
Caulk Doors, Siding, and Windows
Air leaks can increase the cost of heating and cooling your house by a significant amount, pay attention to them. Start with the big gaps, like broken or jammed windows, poorly hung doors, and damage to the exterior of the home. Once those are done, you can focus on the harder to find problems. Air leaks are common where wiring, duct work, and plumbing goes through floors, ceilings, and walls.
You can find these small leaks by passing your hand close to suspect areas and noting any change in temperature. If that isn’t working, you can turn off fans or HVAC systems and hold a candle near potential leaky areas and see if the flame flickers or moves. Sealing leaks with caulk can save more than enough money to pay for itself, and can easily be done in an hour or two for even a large house.
Replace or Clean the Furnace Filter
It's important to clean or change the furnace filter on a regular basis, especially when it is running every day. When a furnace can 'breathe' easily, they use much less energy. Check the manufacturer's manual for information regarding the replacement of furnace filter – some require changes every three months. The cost of replacing the furnace filter will depend on the furnace.
On average, furnace filter replacement costs range between 10 and 50 dollars. Depending on how often your furnace runs, how dusty your house gets, and the age of the furnace, you may want to replace it more often.
A huge chunk of your home budget goes towards heating costs, especially during winter. Taking a few measures to make your home more efficient will go a long way for your budget, and will make cold weather stay outside where it belongs.