5 Home Improvement Tips to Save You Money in Winter

When we talk about home improvement, people tend to think about increasing the curb appeal of a house. While beautification is part of home improvement, there is a lot more to it than that. It is about making your home more comfortable and energy efficient, and saving you some money in the process.

Now that fall is slowly but surely giving way to colder winter months, it is a good time to talk about energy efficiency and savings. From big changes that will knock hundreds of dollars off your energy bill to smaller ones that need just a bit of elbow grease and a few materials from your local hardware store, let’s take a look at 5 tips that will help you save money this winter.

1. Seal Tight & Ventilate Right

As the title suggests, it is all about sealing the places where air can penetrate through the walls and cause drafts. All you need to do is to locate these areas using an infrared thermometer and seal them using a high quality caulk.

Materials needed: High quality caulk, infrared thermometer

2. Insulation Gaps

The general rule when you are looking for any insulation gap is to look for areas where you have something that penetrates through the wall such as outside faucets, air vents and plumbing. The penetration areas are prone to having air leaks that will cause temperature fluctuations. You can fill these gaps with expanding foam, making sure that they are sealed properly. It is very important that you never seal next to a gas flue, as that would be a fire hazard.

If you don’t mind some more dirty work, it is a good idea to inspect the area where the foundation of your home meets the house and look for any cracks through which you can see daylight passing. There is an expanding foam product for these bigger holes and a fire block version for holes between floors or for sealing electrical boxes. Don’t forget to wear gloves when you are handling the foam, as this product is very sticky before it sets.

If you have some extra big gaps that expanding foam will not fill properly, you might want to use insulation products for those areas. You have different alternatives when comes to these materials including fiberglass insulation and Ultratouch denim insulation.

Materials needed: Expanding foam, gloves, fireblock insulating foam, fiberglass insulation, ultratouch denim insulation.

3. Tune-up Your Heating System

On average, 30% of a home’s energy cost is related to the heating system. If you have inefficiencies with your furnace or boiler, your energy bills might increase unnecessarily. Replacing the filter in your heating system at the beginning of the winter is a great idea to make sure it is working efficiently through the cold months.

While the cost of a tune-up may seem like an unnecessary expenditure at first, the small problems can turn into much larger, expensive replacements down the road. A new furnace is a substantial financial investment but regular maintenance postpones its replacement.

4. Check Your Windows

The key thing with windows is to make sure that you have the right windows for the local climate. If you live in a region that gets especially cold in winter like Canada, it is a good idea to invest in double or triple-paned windows with insulated glass. If your windows are not properly insulated through the cold winter months, your heating system will work overtime to compensate for the escaping heat and thus increase your utility bills significantly.

We know that installing new windows is a hefty investment that takes lots of technical analysis from skilled professionals. Furthermore, the efficiency increase could be marginal if the rest of your home is not insulated properly. This is why it is important to look at the home as an entire system rather than individual components when assessing energy efficiency.

Having said that, you can still make a lot of incremental improvements with a few quick hardware store purchases without having to invest a big chunk of time and money to an entire window installation. Using some caulk to seal the window frames and installing insulating blinds will increase the performance of your windows significantly.

Materials needed: Caulk, cellular shades (insulating blinds)

5. Smart Thermostat

We live in the world of computers and smartphones. A great extension of this is smart home technologies that are becoming more and more popular these days. Programmable thermostats are a great way to increase the energy efficiency of your home and save you some money. You can go so far as to invest in Wi-Fi enabled technologies that allow you to control the device from your smartphone, provide you with data like temperature swings and even tell you when it is time for a filter change.