As 2013 comes to an end we have already seen arctic temperatures and we haven’t even reached our coldest months. The temperature is rapidly dropping throughout the country, and some areas have even seen a great deal of  snow. For many people, this will mean higher utility bills as the thermostat is turned up and a cold house thanks to drafts that went unnoticed during the summer. You might be thinking that it’s too late to start winterizing your house if you haven’t done so already, but the truth is that it’s never too late!  Even if you’re a severe procrastinator, there are still some quick and easy tricks to keeping your home feeling comfortable this winter without ending up with a big heating bill.

1. Apply New Weather Stripping to Your Doors

The doors on many modern homes have weather seals already, but these can become damaged over time. If you want to keep the gaps around your doors sealed during the winter, you may need to apply new weather stripping. Not only are they relatively inexpensive, but they can lower your heating bill by 10 to 15 percent! There are several different kinds of weather stripping available for different doors. Tension seal stripping usually works well for most situations, and foam stripping can be great at filling irregularly-sized cracks. Felt stripping is probably the most inexpensive stripping available if money is an issue, but it will only last about a year or two.

2. Insulate Electrical Outlets with Foam Insertselectrical outlet insulation

Much of the heat that is lost from a home during the winter comes from electrical outlets on an exterior wall. These outlets are often overlooked when it comes time to winterizing a home, which is unfortunate because insulating them is very easy and inexpensive. First turn off power at the breaker box.  Next, remove the outlet cover.  Then use a can of spray foam to insulate if there is a gap between the outlet box and the drywall.  Finally place a precut foam electrical outlet gasket over the outlet and replace the outlet cover.  The spray foam and the foam gasket can be purchase at the local hardware store very inexpensively.

3. Put Plastic on Windows Over Drafty Windows

In addition to applying the same weather stripping that can be put on doors and insulating outlets, you can take care of drafty windows by insulating them with plastic shrink wrap. All you need for this cheap and effective solution is some shrink wrap and some double-sided tape. Cut the plastic to fit, apply the tape around the window jam, place the plastic over the window secured to the tape, and use a hair dryer to shrink it and smooth out any wrinkles. This method creates an air bubble between the plastic and a drafty window so that the cool air does not enter your home.  You will feel the difference in your home immediately.  You can find kits that will have everything you need at most home improvement stores.

Winterizing a home sounds like a daunting task for many people, but it really doesn’t have to be. These are all very simple solutions that will cost you very little, yet they can cut your heating bill down by as much as 15 percent this winter. The winter season may be just around the corner, but it’s never too late or too difficult to winterize your home.

By Frank Prestwood