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11 Ways to Stay Warm and Save Energy this Winter

As much of the country is experiencing a colder than average winter, energy bills are rising. For many, this significant drop in temperature also results in colder homes. To help keep your home warm and your energy expenses down, follow these 11 DIY tips for a warmer, more energy efficient home.

1. Stop the drafts. Do you feel a draft near exterior doors? Apply weather-stripping along the frame and door sweep on the bottom of the door to keep cold air from getting in and warm air from getting out.

2. Seal the cracks. Inspect the exterior of your home and search for any cracks or holes in the foundation and siding. Not only are cracks an entryway for pests, it’s also another way cold air is entering your home. Be especially observant for cracks on window and door frames. Use weather-resistant caulk to fill in cracks.

3. Lock your windows. Locking your windows will ensure that they are as tightly closed as possible. Still feel a draft? Apply weather-stripping and seal cracks and holes.

4. Use the sun. When the sun is shining, open your blinds and curtains to allow sunlight in to naturally heat the room. When the sun is not shining, shut your blinds and curtains to contain any draft you may feel from the cold glass.

5. Program your thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it! Set the thermostat to as low a temperature as is comfortable when you are active in the home. When you are away or asleep, set the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower. Never set your thermostat below 55 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing.

6. Insulate your attic. Use a non-combustible foam sealant to close any gaps and cracks, especially around pipes and chimneys. Use flexible caulk around any electrical boxes. Install weather-stripping to ensure the attic door or hatch closes completely. Use this chart to determine the insulation R value recommended for your area. Make sure the insulation covers the entire floor without blocking the attic vents. Complete the same upgrades to your crawl space.

7. Tune your furnace. Just like cars, your furnace needs an annual tune-up. A tune-up increases the efficiency of the furnace, ensuring maximum value and impact. Replace the filter each month to ensure warm, clean air is circulating efficiently.

8. Wrap the water tank. Is your water tank warm to the touch? If so, it is not properly insulated and uses more energy to keep the water warm. Water heater insulation blankets are available at your local hardware store for about $20.

9. Invest in the little things. There are several changes you can make around your home for a minimal investment and high return. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs; install low flow shower heads and faucet aerators; use surge protectors for electronics and turn off the base when not in use.

10. Dig Deep. If you haven’t noticed an improvement in your energy bills or have trouble maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home, hire a professional to conduct an energy audit. An energy auditor will be able to determine exactly where air is entering the home and what additional steps need to be taken. For free, rebated or discounted energy audits, contact your energy provider or local housing department.

11. Make it Healthy. Before weatherizing your home, make sure your home and the air you breathe inside it is healthy. Take GHHI’s quiz to evaluate your home’s health and learn how to maintain it with GHHI’s 8 elements of healthy home.

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