When winter approaches, many homeowners start to focus more heavily on their utility bills. After all, this is the season when your furnace will be running full-time and you'll probably be spending more time inside -- cooking, watching TV, and using other electronics. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can act now to keep your utility bills more manageable throughout the winter season.
Fix your attic insulation.
If you're like most people, you have not even taken a look at your attic insulation in years. It may have become damp and compacted during that time -- or there may not be enough of it. Take a peek up in your attic. If your insulation has shifted so that some parts of the floor are exposed, adjust it. If certain pieces look damp, compacted, or discolored, remove them and replace them with new insulation. If there's only one layer of insulation in your attic, consider unrolling a second layer on top of the first one. Just run the sheets perpendicular to those in the first layer.
Keeping your insulation in tip-top shape will help reduce the amount of heat that escapes through your roof. This can greatly reduce your utility bills.
Have your roof fixed.
A roof with missing or peeling shingles can drive your energy bills up in a few ways. First, it lets more heat escape than a well-maintained roof. Second, it may begin to leak, moistening your insulation and reducing its effectiveness. If you see any peeling shingles on your roof, take the time to re-attach them. Just pound a roofing nail through the shingle, and then apply a dab of roofing cement over the head of the nail. If your roof is missing a lot of shingles, you may want to have professional roofing contractors come patch it up before winter.
Seal or insulate your windows.
Windows are the number one source of heat loss in many homes. Even if your windows are relatively new, there are some ways you can reduce the amount of heat that's lost through them, thereby reducing your utility bills. Try:
- Applying rope caulk to the gap between the window and the frame. You can press this caulk in with your fingers and peel it out again in the spring.
- Switch out thin curtains for thick, insulating ones made from felt, flannel, or canvas.
- Place sheets of sticky plastic over your windows. These are sold at most hardware stores and are easy to pull off again in the spring.