The following is a guest post by Diana Fishlock
Depending on climate and personal preferences, heating a house can be expensive for several months each year. Homeowners who invest a little time and money up front are able stay warm while lowering their utility bills.
Review these five measures to heat a home on a budget.
Proper caulking seals up tiny cracks that cause drafts – those little chills people feel that make them want to turn up the heat. Those cracks cause significant heat loss.
Caulking can be completed at any time of year. To start, homeowners should buy a caulk gun and a tube of paintable, indoor/outdoor caulk. Usually white is the best color. Do-it-yourselfers should walk around the house looking for hairline cracks where windows meet walls. Outside they can look for cracks where brick meets wood and window frames or water spigots meet walls. Homeowners can spend an afternoon tackling the job or fill just a few at a time.
Before applying caulk, the surface should be dry and free of dirt and dust. Then follow the directions for opening the tube and putting the caulk in the gun. Next, compress the gun to force the caulk to the tip, applying just a few beads. Smooth it out with a finger, cleaning up any stray caulk with a rag or paper towel. For larger cracks, apply a line of caulk and let it dry. Then repeat in a few hours. Filling the entire crack at once is not advised.
Alternative benefits for caulking are keeping air conditioned homes cool during the summer, keeping little critters out, smoothing walls before painting, and filling gaps between walls and bowed baseboards, window frames and door jambs.
People should store any unused caulk by putting a nail in the hole then wrapping paper towels around it and securing with plastic wrap and a rubber band. Otherwise it can dry up.
2. Ceiling Fans
Homeowners with ceiling fans probably use them on hot summer nights, but those fans can also help homes stay warm in the winter. In hot months, homeowners should use ceiling fans in the counterclockwise direction. In the winter, they can reverse the direction of the fan by flicking a switch and force warm air from the ceiling down into the rest of the room.
3. Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save big bucks for those who forget to turn the heat down at night or when they leave the house. Homeowners can program the temperature to heat up before the alarm clock rings and they set a toe on the floor in the morning. The house can be warmed up and ready for a relaxing evening before the car is in the driveway at the end of the workday.
Before buying a thermostat, homeowners should research their options. They can look at ratings in consumer magazines or online to see which thermostats are durable and easy to program. Some prefer models with weekday, Saturday and Sunday settings. People who travel a lot might want a thermostat with a simple, one-step vacation override.
Handy homeowners can install their own thermostats or simply hire a professional. Either way, avoid installing a new thermostat right before sanding and painting, which can clog up a thermostat and ruin it.
Changing furnace and HVAC filters regularly saves heating and cooling costs because it allows furnaces and air conditioners to run at peak efficiency. Fresh filters also provide families with cleaner air to breathe at home and help the furnace last longer. Homeowners should check user manuals to determine how to change filters and what size to buy. Bringing the old filter to the hardware store can also help.
Adding insulation isn’t very low budget, but it’s an important step to keep heat in and cold out. Because warm air rises, the attic is the most effective place to add insulation. Other vital places: exterior walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Putting insulation in indoor walls will decrease noise.
With all of the high costs of buying a home, owning a home, and maintaining the property, it can be daunting to throw several hundred dollars toward heating the space through the cooler months. Many more heating solutions exist, but these five are fairly inexpensive ways to maintain a warm home on a budget.