Easy Ways to Save Energy this Winter

Right now in Wyoming, its 43 degrees with a high of 51 (at the time of this writing).  Even though it’s winter and weather is occasionally nice, you always need to be thinking about easy ways to save money.  One of the easiest ways to do this is plug your house so that it doesn’t let heat out and cold air in (in the winter) and cold air out (and heat in) in the summer.  These cheap tips are great for an empty weekend day or a holiday that you’ve got off work.  They are simple, cheap and effective at saving energy and money.

Plug the Holes

There are a lot of places that energy can leak out of your house, one of them is around pipes and windows.  Often, they have to cut a hole for the pipes and can’t get a tight fit – so there’s air seeping in and out of the hole.  Head over to your local hardware store and buy a bottle of caulk to plug these holes.  You don’t even need a caulking gun and a tube of caulk should cost around 3 bucks.  Find the holes around the edges of pipes that go from the outside of your house to the inside.  Once this is done, look for some gaps around the windows and caulk them up too.

Another easy fix is to stop the drafts behind the outlet plates and switches.  You can get a few packs of these at the hardware store and they are fairly cheap.  They are also very easy to install.  Just take off the switch plate with a screwdriver and then put the foam piece behind them.

Once that is finished, you can head back over to the windows and cover them with plastic film.  This will add another layer to the window, and stop the leaks that are coming through the window.  All this takes is a blow dryer and some time to put up the plastic on the windows.  If it’s nice outside (like it is today) you can do the inside and the outside.  This is also a fairly inexpensive way to save some energy.

The last tip I’ve got is to stop the drafts around the door.  You can get something off of tv that goes on both sides of the door and will block air coming in under the door.  I just use a towel behind the door and move it when I have to open the door to get the mail.

You can easily use these four tips to save some money and energy this winter.  Figure out the next day that you’ve got free, get the supplies and get started.  Good luck with this project, and soon I’ll have some more easy tips for you.

Do you have any other tips or easy ways to save energy?  What do you do in your home to keep your energy bills low in the winter?

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10 thoughts on “Easy Ways to Save Energy this Winter”

  1. That reminds me, I need to get some additional wall plate insulators. I re-painted a couple of rooms a while back and a couple of them were pretty well stuck and were destroyed during the removal. I will add this to my list.

    I got a Black & Decker thermal sensor (about 40-50 bucks) for Christmas a couple of years ago. One of the best tools I own. You point it at the wall or ceiling and it will give you a temperature reading. It’s a great way to narrow down where leaks might be occurring. I wrote a post about how I found out that our room was hot in the summer and cold in the winter because of a gap above the ceiling fan. I never would have found it otherwise, and since finding it this past summer, our room temperature is now the same as the rest of the house and our heating bill was, on average 5-10% less this winter, even though it was colder than normal. I know finding that leak has saved more than the unit cost.

    • I had never heard of the plate insulators when I was doing the research for this article, but I think that when I get into a home that I own, I’ll probably get some – they seem to be pretty great. That thermal sensor sounds like it’s pretty hand for you and I bet did a lot of good with the area around the fan.

  2. Great tips, Jeff.

    We actually have been using 2 of the 4 you mentioned, including plastic on the windows and towels around doors. Our front door is horrible! There’s a large draft coming in from underneath, and since I don’t own the place, I’m not about to fix it. We just shove a towel under, close the door, and it’s plugged. The towel also acts as a great place to wipe your feet.

    The plastic seems to have helped some, but our fireplace leaks cold air like crazy. It’s always cold over by it. I think the stones conduct the cold air pretty well.

    • I’ve got the plastic and the towels – but I only have the plastic on one side of the window – When I put it up there, neither me nor my trusty assistant wanted to brave the elements and go outside and do the other side. I agree with you on the ownership – I’m not going to fix it if It’s not my problem.

  3. Another cheap and easy fix is to seal up the entrance to your attic (assuming you don’t use the attic as living space). You can get black foam strips that are sticky on one side. Lay the foam down around the entrance to your attic and then lay the attic door into place. Then get a few of those hooks/eyes and install them around the attic door. Make a good tight connection to squish your attic door firmly in place. A lot of heat loss goes through that attic door – remember, heat rises looking to escape and that attic door is the highest exit point in the house.

  4. In our case, it’s all about stopping the leaks in the summer instead, but everything you mentioned works equally well then! Another tip is to plant trees that lose their leaves in the winter near windows. That way the sun can get in during the winter to warm things up, and the leaves provide shade in the summer to cool things down.

  5. Don’t forget basement/slab/crawlspace insulation… heat always travels the path of least resistance and proper insulation when building a new home or renovating can not be emphasized enough!

    You can get a variety of weather stripping for doors with gaps, although I’m having some trouble finding something for the half inch gap underneath my french door…don’t want to screw an ugly doorsweep onto an 80 year old door :s

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