7 Cost-Efficient Ways to Winterize Your Home ...

There are several great reasons you should winterize your home. You'll stay warmer, you're being more environmentally responsible, and you can save money. In my neck of the woods, the winter's been surprisingly mild so far, but it won't stay that way. Whether you're preparing for colder temperatures or already dealing with them, take some time to winterize your home so you can conserve energy while staying toasty.

1. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

You might not think you can adequately winterize your home with something so simple, but I promise, it works. My dad taught me this method. Every winter, he and my mother go through their house reversing their ceiling fans, which can be accomplished with a little switch above the light socket. Heat rises, and by reversing the direction of your fans, they will pull up warm air and circulate it around. It's a neat trick, and definitely noticeable.

2. Sacrifice the Hot Showers

Okay, that's an exaggeration; you can still have hot showers. You should, however, turn down the temperature on your hot water tank. You likely don't need it as high as it is because you don't use that much hot water at once. Turning it down by just 20 degrees can make a difference in your energy output and costs, but you won't actually sacrifice any comfort.

3. Become a Draft Dodger

You wouldn't believe how much energy and heat you use through drafty doors and windows. The Department of Energy states you can lose up to 30 percent. Rather than running the risk, stuff a thick rug, some old fabric, or a draft snake under your doors. For the windows, a little plastic or thicker drapes should suffice. If you're more ambitious, you can turn to weather stripping or caulk.

4. Insulate for Less

Insulating your entire home can quickly get costly. While it's something to consider, especially if you don't already have it and live in an especially cold climate, you don't have to go that route. You can still save on energy and energy costs, not to mention avoiding burst pipes and conserving even more hot water. All it takes is a little insulation around your pipes. A little foam at your local hardware store is all you need.

5. Program It

Although slightly more expensive than some of these other methods, getting a programmable thermostat will really pay for itself. Being able to time the heat is incredibly cost-efficient, and rather than heating an empty home all day or coming home to freezing temperatures, you can time it to turn on maybe fifteen minutes before anyone comes home.

6. Keep Your Filters Clean

Replacing your furnace is prohibitive in terms of cost. So is running it too high because it isn't putting out enough heat. Rather than paying a likewise steep repair bill, check your filters. Replacing them regularly, which is generally once a month during the coldest weather, you can heat your home much more efficiently – and filters are much cheaper than a new furnace. To the same end, remember to keep your heating ducts clear and clean.

7. Look for Leaks

This last tip is pretty simple, and may seem self explanatory, but it can easily slip your mind after the lovely weather of summer and early fall. In September or October, just walk around your home. Explore every floor, looking for leaks or drafts or broken windows. If you can get to it early, you won't waste energy later, and you may get a better deal on necessary repairs as well.

With heating costs skyrocketing, it pays to save where you can. The good news is that you don't have to sacrifice your comfort either. Do you take steps to winterize your home when the cold weather hits? How do you save money on your heating and energy costs?