During the frigid winter months, many homeowners struggle to strike that seemingly impossible balance between staying warm without seeing a spike in utility costs. However, there are a number of effective ways to feel cozy in your home this winter while investing in its future value as well. Here are just a few ways to save money on utility expenses and keep you and your family warm all winter long.
Add Attic Insulation
While most homeowners are aware of the heat lost through cracks in windows and doors, most remain in the dark about the significant amount of heat lost through a home’s attic. Adding layers of fiberglass insulation is one of the best cost-effective solutions and can help retain more of your home’s heat.
“The obvious place to add insulation is the attic, but also consider the crawl space, garage and basement. If you’re doing any construction that opens up exterior walls, that’s a good time to add insulation in the walls,” writes Teresa Mears in U.S. News.
If you’re not sure exactly how much heat is disappearing through your home’s attic, check to see when it was last insulated. If it’s been more than about 20 years, it’s definitely time for a new layer.
Prioritize Proper Furnace Maintenance
Heating and cooling account for about 48% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, and your furnace works just as hard to cool your home during the winter as your air conditioner does to cool your home during the summer. That means that without timely filter changes and occasional inspections, your entire HVAC system will plummet in efficiency.
A furnace with a dirty filter has to work harder to achieve the same output, and an overworked furnace is more likely to break down just when you need it most. When it comes down to it, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that adequately maintained furnaces can save you a little over $30 a month versus their neglected counterparts.
Of course, if your furnace is more than nine or 10 years old, you may want to consider replacing it entirely. Modern furnaces are generally much more efficient, and they’re also a major selling point for the eco-conscious home-buyer. But most of all, you’ll have the security of knowing that your new system won’t break down and leave your family in the cold during a snowstorm.
Plan For Spring
Finally, take some time to consider some larger energy-saving home improvement projects that may be opportune when spring arrives. For example, simply choosing the right roofing material could result in as much as a 30% decrease in your home’s energy needs, and if your home’s roof is more than 15 years old, there’s a good chance it’s time to get it replaced.
Ultimately, it’s up to you as a homeowner to decide what’s best for both your home and your family. But being conscious of the simple ways you can reduce your home’s energy costs is the key to finding that elusive balance between cost and comfort.