Now that fall has come and gone, we no longer get to see changing leaves when we look outside. Instead, those beautiful orange and red colors have been replaced by a desolate layer of white snow across much of the country.
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And with colder weather comes higher energy costs and additional expenses. But if you're looking to save money this winter, there are still a few things you can do.
Not all home repairs are worth doing, but some winter money-saving tips do exist (and most are easy to implement). Just remember that the sooner you take action, the more you'll save.
1. Fix Air Leaks For those who constantly turn the heater on to stay warm during the winter, finding and fixing air leaks could save a ton of money. You'll need to carefully examine areas of your house where cold air can seep in and warm air can escape. A good place to start is the attic, where small leaks can act like a chimney, sucking up valuable warm air. Grab some inexpensive duct tape and caulking and start sealing up any areas susceptible to air leaks. You can get this done in just a few hours -- or a full day if you'd like to do a more thorough job.
2. Get an Energy Audit Not everyone's heard of energy audits, but they're actually pretty common. With an energy audit, a qualified professional will come to your house and determine the efficiency of your energy usage. He or she will be able to spot areas that are using extensive energy and let you know whether it's cost-effective to repair or even replace the item. Although most energy auditors charge a fee for their service, you will probably end up saving in the long run. Alternately, you could consult with your electricity provider to see if they offer any kind of complimentary energy audit. Low-income families are often allowed to get these services for free.
3. Buy a New Thermostat It's definitely easier to get out of bed when it's nice and warm outside the covers instead of freezing cold. But while you are at work, you don't want to warm your house as much as if you were home. A programmable thermostat can help with that. The newest devices allow you to set your heat to desired temperatures based on the time of day and week. Some of the newest thermostats on the market even allow you to program them from a computer or smartphone. So when you're away from home you can turn off the heat or if you're on the way home, you can turn on the heat. Other models will even learn your daily routine and program themselves accordingly.
4. Add Insulation This is probably the cheapest and easiest fix since all it requires is for you to add insulation anywhere you have access to ceilings. Since warm air rises, a lot of heat can escape through your ceilings. By adding extra insulation in the attic, you can prevent some of this heat loss.
Long-Term Savings These fixes can help shave some money from your heating bills this winter. They can also result in bigger bucks down the road. A more energy-efficient house can be more attractive to potential buyers when you are looking to sell. An investment now can pay off in both the short and long term. Just be sure you look at the upfront cost and how long it will take you to recoup that cost in savings.
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