9 Home winterization projects to do right now

| by Teena Hammond
9 Home winterization projects to do right now

Sure, it's the middle of summer. But that's the best time to prepare for winter, when the sun is shining and the weather is warm. Because, face it — who wants to work outside in 20 degree temps?

So, go ahead, spend a few hours this weekend and next winterizing your home in preparation for the cold weather ahead. The payoff includes lower energy costs and a more comfortable house.

Caulking and weatherstripping— The rule of thumb is that caulking and adding weatherstripping around windows and doors can save approximately 20-30 percent in heating bills. Look for gaps around windows and doors. Don't forget to check the door leading into an attached garage and seal any gaps.

Gutters — Check for clogs. If you have gutter guards, make sure they're working properly before the leaves fall off the trees. If gutter guards aren't in the right place, ice will build up in the gutters, mix with the leaves, and cause an ice dam that allows water to seep under roof shingles.

Insulation — Add necessary insulation to your attic and crawl spaces. Consider using spray foam or rigid foam insulation as opposed to traditional fiberglass batt insulation. Also insulate the basement or crawl spaces down to the frost line for your region.

Electrical outlets and light switches — Cover outlets and light switches with foam sealers, pre-cut and designed for the job. Take off the cover plate and place the sealer over the outlet. Replace the cover plate and the sealers aren't visible. Another option is to fill each outlet with spray foam insulation.

Heating and cooling air ducts — Make sure duct work is sealed properly. If old and leaky, even new heating and A/C equipment won't work efficiently. Cover A/C ducts during winter months.

Air filter — Replace air filters on HVAC unit.

Water pipes — Look for cracks and leaks and have them repaired immediately. Wrap exposed pipes with heating tape to keep them from freezing.

Water heater blanket— Before cold weather strikes, wrap your water heater with a hot water heater insulated blanket. According to the EPA, an insulation blanket for a water heater will reduce heat loss by 25-40 percent, saving you up to $30 annually.

Programmable thermostat— For less than $30, install a programmable thermostat and set it to automatically lower the temperature at bedtime by 7 degrees. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, programmable thermostats can save about $180 a year on home energy bills.

Use these common sense tips to help save on utility bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 20 percent of the nation's energy dollars are spent in homes. U.S. consumers spend $241 billion each year on home energy.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Dominion Virginia Power; Andres Pustroem, Energreen Technologies

For more information, see our research centers on Windows and Doors and Heating & Cooling.

Topics: Heating & Cooling, Windows

Companies: U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Energy

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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