7 Tips on Winterizing Your Home and Saving Money as You Turn on the Heat

A few easy steps can help you save money on energy bills and make your home more comfortable as cooler weather hits and you turn on the heat for the first time this fall.

“The most important thing to do is seal those leaks and make sure you’ve got the appropriate amount of insulation,” energy efficiency expert Kateri Callahan said.

“Little leaks can add up.”

Callahan said that in a typical house that hasn’t been properly sealed and insulated, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Find the leaks and use weatherstripping

Check the seal around windows and doors by holding a candle flame at spots around the edges. If the flame moves, you have a leak.

“Sometimes, even ductwork in your house and in the ceiling where the lights are — there’s air leaking in through all those different places,” Callahan said.

Adequate insulation

It’s bad news if you can see your attic joists. “If attic insulation is at the level of the joist or below, you probably need to add insulation,” Callahan said.

Check the HVAC system

Have your HVAC system checked once a year by a professional, “and make sure the filters are clean,” Callahan said. “If you’re trapping the air flow, you’re wasting energy.”

Install a programmable thermostat

Prices have fallen fairly dramatically, she said, and “they’re easy to install, or you can have a professional install it, of course.” Programmable thermostats can save a significant amount of money, Callahan said, “but they only work if you program them.”

Reverse your ceiling fan

Ceiling fans can be used to move warm air that is trapped on the ceiling down into a room if blades move in a clockwise or “reverse” direction. That pushes air down the sides of the room and improves the distribution of heat.

Be wise with the chimney

Using a fireplace can suck warm air out of your home. Make sure the damper/flue is completely closed when the fireplace has cooled completely.

Dress for cozy success

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter advised families to turn down the thermostat and dress warmly, Callahan remembers.

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