The seasons are changing! The air is getting a little cooler, the leaves are starting to fall, and pumpkin spice is plastered on everything from lattes to candles to English muffins. So, it is a great time to talk about some frugal ways to keep your house warmer this winter (and cooler next summer).
With All The Money In The World
Of course, the most foolproof way to keep your house warm and energy efficient would be to:
- Replace all your windows with new, energy-efficient ones (not just inserts)
- Replace all your doors
- Install radiant floor heating
- Install a programmable thermostat, one that you can control from your phone
- Install a whole-house fan
However, these options are going to cost more, and not everyone has it in the budget.
Staying Warm/Cool On A Budget
Since we’re not all made of money, we decided to compile a list of ways to keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer that won’t break the bank! Each of these items is relatively easy on the wallet, but should make a difference in your comfort during the cold or hot season, and sometimes during both. Try a few, or really go for it and try them all!
1. Clean Filters
Make sure your furnace and A/C filters are clean. This allows the air to move freely from the furnace, heating and cooling with less effort. This is more energy efficient as well. Replace or clean filters once a month.
2. Air Flow
Ensure that vents, A/C units, and radiators aren’t blocked by furniture. The warm/cool air is useless if it is aimed at the back of a bookcase or couch. Clear the path so the air is unencumbered.
3. Insulate The Attic
Check your attic to make sure there is enough insulation.
“If your insulation is just level with or below your floor joists (i.e., you can easily see your joists), you should add more. If you cannot see any of the floor joists because the insulation is well above them, you probably have enough and adding more may not be cost-effective.” —Energy Star
If there isn’t enough and you need to add more, you can either DIY or call a professional.
4. Reverse Your Fans
If you have ceiling fans, reverse their spin. They should turn clockwise in the winter to circulate the rising hot air. In summer, they should turn counterclockwise to pull the cold air up and spread it out.
5. Curtains, Shutters, Shades, etc.
Thermal curtains, window shutters, and shades or blinds can all help to keep the heat and cold out. In fact, it’s recommended to close the curtains on cold nights or hot days to provide some insulation. Likewise, open the curtains on cold days to let the sunlight through, and on summer nights open the curtains and windows to let in the cooler night air.
6. Window Insulator Kit
Pick up a window insulator kit to battle those window drafts without dropping 20k on new windows! Apply it to your windows and use some press-in-place rope caulk in any open spaces to help insulate in both cold and warm weather.
7. Close Rooms
Close off rooms that you rarely use and shut their vents to divert that precious air to other areas of the house. You can go a step further and use a door snake/draft stopper at the foot of the door.
8. Draft-proof Doors
Have some drafty doors? Block up those drafts with gaskets, weatherstrips, or sweeps and shoes. You can also put door snakes/draft stoppers at the foot of the front and back doors for some added protection from drafts.
9. Timer On The Exhaust Fan
The bathroom exhaust fan basically takes the air in the bathroom and pushes it outside. Whether that is hot air or cool air, your HVAC system now has to produce more. And if that vent is on all day, so is your furnace! Put the exhaust vent on a timer so that you’re never unnecessarily losing air.
Fixes For Cold Weather
Rugs are wonderful for warming up a room. They work as added insulation. Put them wherever you’d like things to be a bit cozier but definitely beside the bed, in front of the couch, and at the front or back door.
11. Prevent Fireplace Drafts
Having a chimney in your home can be like having a hole in the roof if you don’t take efforts to prevent fireplace drafts. Make sure that the flue is always closed if the fireplace isn’t in use. Then, use a fireplace draft stopper and/or a fireplace cover. Covers are terrific if you use your fireplace regularly because you just put it back on when you’re done.
12. Use The Heat
Your home builds up heat when you shower, use the oven, or run the dishwasher or clothes dryer. Utilize that heat! After you’ve used the oven, leave it slightly open to allow the heated air to waft through the house. Of course, beware of doing this if there are children or pets in the house! In the same vein, if you don’t have a sensitive smoke alarm like I do, leave the bathroom door open when you shower.
Fixes For Hot Weather
13. Avoid The Heat!
Just like the last tip utilizes the heat from your appliances to warm the house, this one suggests the opposite. In hotter months, run the dishwasher and dryer at night rather than during the warmer times of day. Avoid using the oven, and instead, cook outside on the grill.
14. Change Your Bulbs
Incandescent bulbs give off a good amount of heat. To limit that warmth and help with energy efficiency, use LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs.
15. Open The Windows
We mean at night, of course! Try this method of opening the windows after the sun goes down and using fans to circulate the cooler air. Then, when the sun comes up in the morning, close all the windows and curtains to trap the cool air and keep out the warming sunlight.
We hope these suggestions will bring added comfort to your home during the cold and hot seasons. Maybe they’ll even help with your energy bill, making the small cost well worth it!
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