When the temperature drops, there’s nothing more comforting than a warm, cozy home. But cranking the thermostat comes with big bills. Try these winter window hacks – and some more traditional solutions — to save on your energy bills while keeping your house warm and toasty this season.
1. Insulate your windows with plastic wrap or bubble wrap.
Did you know that you can create a barrier around drafty windows using bubble wrap? Choose medium to large size bubbles and cut the wrap to fit to the outer edges of your window. Fill a spray bottle with water. Spray the window with a thin film and immediately place the wrap bubble side down and press it against the windowpane. The water will make it stick. You also can use clear plastic cling wrap instead of the bubble wrap with a similar effect. Keep the wrap there all winter and remove it in the spring. You can even reuse it; just label it for the window that it fits.
Store-bought version: If you prefer, you can buy an inexpensive window insulation kit at hardware or retail stores, or online. They come with a clear shrink wrap film that you cut to size. Then, you apply adhesive around the window frame and use a hairdryer to seal it to the tape. While it holds well during the winter, the plastic peels off easily at the end of the season.
2. Replace caulk and weatherstripping.
Caulk and weatherstripping can wear out over time. Sealing air ducts with caulk and weatherstripping is an easy DIY project that can save you 10-20% of your energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The acrylic latex caulks are the easiest to apply and often the least expensive. Choose the type of weatherstripping based on your windows. Lowes offers guidelines that range from vinyl, aluminum, and stainless steel to felt and foam.
3. Choose insulating window shades and curtains.
What you put on your windows does make a difference. Choose insulated window shades such as cellular shades, which have a honeycombed design to trap air. This can save you 10% in heating costs. If you prefer curtains, choose thick medium-colored drapes. You can find blackout or ones with white plastic backings, which can act as insulation. Flannel and fleece curtains also add a layer of insulation. You can check energy ratings for various types of window coverings with the AERC, an independent public-interest nonprofit organization.
Tip: Open curtains on a sunny day during the winter months, and let the sun heat your home. Don’t forget to close the curtains at night or the opposite effect will occur.
4. Install storm windows.
You may not be ready for the expense of replacing your windows, and storm windows may be the next best thing. These windows are mounted inside or outside of an existing window pane. This extra layer helps provide additional insulation (and as a bonus helps to reduce noise). Not all windows will be able to fit storm windows, so check first before you make the investment. When you’re ready, choose low-emissivity (Low-E) storm windows, which have a microscopically thin coating that reflects heat back into the house. These windows can save 12% to 33% of heating costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
5. Other Expert Tips to Try This Winter:
- Get a programmable thermostat. Set it lower at night and when you’re away from the house at work.
- Keep your heating vents open. It’s a myth that closing vents will save you money. Your heating system generates the same amount of heat whether they are open or closed.
- Make sure your vents are not obstructed. Move curtains, rugs, furniture that are blocking airflow.
- Consider a duct booster fan to increase the flow of warm air.
- Keep interior doors open so airflow can circulate.
- If you have a radiator, use some aluminum foil behind it to reflect the heat into the room rather than into the wall.
- If you can see light under the bottom of your front door, cold air is coming through. You can often raise the height of your threshold by turning screws—or you can buy a new one.
- Run your ceiling fan in reverse so it is moving clockwise to pull warm air down.
Some simple winter home maintenance can help you save on your energy bill and prevent winter home hazards. Remember to schedule a furnace checkup with a professional HVAC company, change your air filters, and check your insulation. Your home is your greatest investment; take care of it and you will enjoy it for years to come.
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