Winterize a Home on a Budget

A piggy bank sitting on top of a stack of cash on a heater.
  • 4-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-200

Changing leaves and a steady drop in temperature are clear signs winter is just around the corner.

Apart from lower temps and snow days, winter is a season that can take huge bites out of your budget.

Fortunately, winterizing your home can save you loads of money in the long run and prevent unnecessary damage to parts of your home.

By following these budget-friendly steps, you can prepare your home for the long winter months ahead.

Clean Gutters

A clogged gutter can cause a lot of problems during winter. If water cannot flow freely through gutters, it will freeze and create large icicles and ice dams.

While these look pretty in the winter sun, they can cause serious damage to gutters and sidings. A good gutter cleaning will prevent an added repair cost down the road.

Flush Water Heater

Adjusting a valve on a water heater

An inefficient water heater can cost you hundreds of dollars every year. The fall is a great time to make sure the water heater is running its best.

To start, flush the water heater to remove particles and sediment that build up over time. Use the water heater’s drain valve to clean out the unwanted material.

Adjust Water Heater Temperature

While you are working with the water heater, check the temperature and make sure it is not above 140 degrees.

The default setting for most water heaters is 140 degrees, yet most households will do fine with a setting of 120 degrees.

A drop in 20 degrees can save as much as 10 percent on energy bills.

Check Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a lifesaver in the summer, but they can also help circulate warm air in the winter.

Simply change the direction of the fan blades so they turn clockwise to push warm air towards the ground.

Install Draft Guards

One of the main goals in winterizing your home is to keep the cold air out. Doors are one of the biggest draft areas for most homes.

Installing draft guards on the bottom of doors will help close off unwanted drafts.

Even better, these guards come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to meet any type of budget.

Replace Filters

furnace filter

Filters play an important role in the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

Changing furnace air filters, which typically run around $10-40 a piece, will improve both the efficiency and longevity of your heating and cooling devices.

Weatherstrip Entryways

In addition to draft guards, consider installing weatherstrips along entryways and windows.

These strips will help close off any gaps in the siding and prevent air from entering or escaping the home.

Weatherstrips are sold by the roll and are very budget-friendly.

Update the Thermostat

A new thermostat might be the most expensive item on this list, but it can save a lot of money in the long run.

Lowering the temperature of your thermostat by one degree during the winter can save one percent in energy costs.

Installing a smart thermostat that can keep the temperatures lower when nobody is home can save even more money.

Repair Insulation

unrolling insulation for installation

Worn out or missing insulation is another way heat escapes the home.

To keep all that warm air inside, consider installing more insulation in key areas of the home, such as between outward-facing walls, attic floors, and basement ceiling.

Remember to double-check the attic and make sure the roof is properly insulated as most homes lose a quarter of their heat in this area.

Repair Siding

Gaps in the siding, especially around windows and doors, are prime areas for drafts to enter the home.

To fully prepare for those chilly temperatures, inspect the outside of your home for any damages in the siding that needs to be repaired.

If you notice large gaps around windows or doors, simply fill them in with caulking.

Remove A/C Window Units

Lastly, make sure you remove any A/C window units. It's incredibly difficult to weatherize these units and eliminate draft sources.

To avoid future problems, simply unplug the units and store them until the spring. It's also a good idea to make sure any outside A/C units are not leaking from the water valve.

If any leaks are detected, simply shut off the valve and drain pipes.