How to Winterize Your Home on a Budget

As the falling leaves and steadily dropping temperatures signal that winter is near, it’s an opportune time to make sure your home can withstand the harsh wintry elements. Even if your home was fine during past winters, that doesn’t mean winterizing it this year isn’t necessary. Changing seasons and general wear over time can erode elements of your home, so winterizing it is something you should prioritize before the first snowfall. Of course, make sure you handle all your fall maintenance first.

As important as winterizing your home is, it’s understandable if it isn’t highly prioritized in terms of budget. Luckily, there are many ways to winterize your home without killing your wallet, and of course these tactics can save you on energy costs later. Here are some excellent ideas for winterizing your home on a budget.

Eliminate Air Leaks

One of the most noticeable parts of an improperly prepared home is a high heating bill, due to air leaks that make a heating system’s work wasteful. To make the most of your heating system, check for air leaks by placing candles in areas of the home susceptible to air leaks and drafts. If the flame moves, there’s a nearby air leak that should be caulked and sealed. A basic caulk gun will only cost you about $20, and a tube of caulk sells for about $10.

Caulk isn’t always necessary, and there are some other options. For windows, try a window insulation film kit, which can seal multiple windows for less than $20 (they should be easy to find at your local hardware store). Fiberglass insulation and weatherstrip tape are other budget-friendly options, costing around $25 per roll and $10 per roll, respectively.

Consider DIY Humidifier Options

Scented Humidifier
Even though it’s a sensible way to keep a home warmer for longer, a humidifier can cost hundreds of dollars. If that doesn’t fit into your budget, consider a do-it-yourself alternative. One popular method is using a stove-top humidifier. Add a lemon to the pot of water on the stove, and it will also provide a refreshing, awakening aroma throughout your home. If you’re worried about the energy use from the stove, you can also add moisture to the air by leaving water in the bathtub, or leaving bowls of water around the house. There are lots of ways to do this in creative, subtle ways, and this moisture will help keep the home warmer.

Another cost-savvy way to keep warm is by using water bottles. Some people opt to purchase an electric blanket, but hot water in bottles can do the trick, too. Simply lay some warm water bottles in your bed several minutes before bedtime. Feel free to use a light towel to prevent moisture. Whichever method you use, realize that buying a humidifier or small heater isn’t always necessary if trying to heat smaller spaces.

Save on Fireplace Maintenance

Some homes generate heat the old-fashioned way: via a fireplace. In many situations this is a great, inexpensive way to obtain heat, though there are some costs — including chimney sweeps and occasional mortar repair.

Here are some tips to maximize your fireplace:

  • Close doors to rooms that aren’t being used
  • Utilize clockwise ceiling fans to spread around the heat
  • Purchase wood after major storms, when it will be in abundance and cheaper

It’s also useful to use an orange peel as a fire starter. The fruit’s skin possesses an oil that is rich for fueling fire. Simply dry your orange peels and put them in a paper bag with a silica packet. The results smell great, too! And lastly, make your fireplace cleanup easy by placing a double layer of tinfoil underneath the fire before lighting it. That way, all you have to do is fold it up when the fire is complete and has cooled.

Keep Roof Cables from Freezing

Roof CablesSource:

When a winter storm concludes, many people must use a roof rake to de-ice any cables on the roof. With a de-icing cable kit, you can simply turn it on before a storm hits. The generated heat will prevent ice from forming under a home’s shingles, help keep gutters flowing and prevent roof damage in general. Although it doesn’t work for cedar roofs and costs around $60, the potential hundreds or thousands it can save make a roof de-icing cable kit well worth it. You can find them in stores or on sites like Amazon pretty easily.

Seal your Garage

While you’re outside, also make sure to properly seal your garage to prevent any potential property damage due to wintertime weather. You wouldn’t want your car to fall victim to overnight freezing.

Eliminate Unnecessary Moisture

River Pebble Boot TraySource:

The amount of cold moisture that can come into a house during winter is surprising. Nearly every time you walk in your house during the winter, your shoes are very cold and may be dripping wet, especially if you’ve been out in the snow. A pebble boot tray is a budget-friendly item that can eliminate this issue.

Snow and ice on shoes or boots drain through to the tray’s bottom, without much cleaning necessary because most of the moisture evaporates beneath the rocks.

Flush your Water Heater Regularly

One easy way to get the most out of your water heater is to flush water through its drain valve, effectively clearing out particles and sediment that gather over time. As it’s completely free, it’s one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to experience a considerable boost in your water heater’s effectiveness.

Similarly, make sure your heating system filters are changed regularly. A new filter usually only costs around $10, so this is a budget-friendly recommendation. Set monthly reminders on your calendar to make these part of a good routine.

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable ThermostatSource:

If you don’t have time to ensure the above tips are implemented, you should definitely consider a programmable thermostat, which is a device that allows you to effectively control your home’s temperature in an automatic way. You can even schedule temperature fluctuations and on/off modules.

A programmable thermostat allows you to conserve energy, especially when you aren’t home. This comes in handy during a winter vacation, for example. The settings on a programmable thermostat allow you to set the precise day when the heat turns off and back on again, ensuring that the home is conserving energy while you’re away, all while making sure it’s warm and cozy for your return.

Enjoy the Benefits of Winterizing

The above tips present budget-friendly ways that you can winterize and add value to your home. Remember that you should effectively eliminate drafts and unnecessary moisture, save on fireplace costs and implement roof defense to enjoy a warm and comfortable home during the harsh winter months.

If you want help planning for these costs, along with ongoing home maintenance, try plugging them into our monthly budget calculator.

Anum Yoon is a personal finance writer and blogger who started and maintains Current On Currency. As a supporter of the sustainability movement, she also frequently writes about how we can help the environment. You can follow her on Twitter to catch her updates.

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