The cooler months are upon us, and with them come higher heating bills. Seemingly insignificant problems like drafty windows and drippy faucets are not only annoying, they can be costly. Now’s a good time for a few repairs and energy hacks that save money.
Many minor home repairs are easy to complete and require very few supplies. Tackle the following maintenance chores this fall, and you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of a well-functioning home without costly fixes later on.
Plug drafty windows and doors
Wind whistling through your windows causes increased heating costs. If your windows are drafty, chances are the weatherstripping or caulking is worn out. Apply to weatherstrip around windows that open and shut and caulking around stationary windows. Both caulking and weatherstripping are inexpensive buys at your local hardware store. They’re also easy to apply.
If the wind is coming in from under your door, put in a door sweep, and replace worn out weatherstripping around the perimeter of the door.
Homeowners can typically save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10 percent of total energy costs) by air sealing and adding insulation in cost-effective locations. – Dow.com
Stop dripping faucets
Your dripping bathroom sink may be wasting a lot more water than you realize. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science School, one faucet that emits 30 drips per minute wastes two gallons of water a day, amounting to 1,041 gallons per year. Dripping faucets are easily fixed by replacing the seals and washers, which cost very little. To save even more money, also install a faucet aerator. This affordable device will reduce your faucet’s water flow, and lower your water bills.
Complete roof repair and maintenance
As your home’s first line of defense against the elements, it pays to make sure things are functioning as they should up there. Roof leaks are costly and disruptive. Before the harsh winter weather sets in, do a roof inspection and check for and replace any missing or broken tiles or shingles. Also, inspect the seal around the chimney and re-caulk if necessary.
Clearing the roof of debris is also important, as it prevents water and snow from collecting. In addition, clean out your gutters and downspouts so they flow well during winter rains. Make sure the downspouts drain at least 6 feet away from the house, which will protect the integrity of your home’s foundation and prevent basement leaks.
Maintain caulking around water fixtures
Inspect around your sinks, bathtubs and showers for any areas that have worn out caulking. If water is allowed to drip down the wall beside a bathtub or sink, for instance, the resulting persistent moisture can cause destructive and expensive rotting in your walls and floors. Remove old caulking and let the area dry thoroughly before applying new waterproof caulking. Refrain from using the fixture for 24 hours until the caulking is completely set.
Install a programmable thermostat
“Smart” thermostats on the market today offer programming options that can save a great deal on your heating and cooling costs. If you’re not at home throughout the week, for instance, you can set the heater to go off while you’re gone and come on a few minutes before you get home. Many of these thermostats have remote control capability through apps, which allows you to change the temperature setting from wherever you are.
Repaint peeling paint
Check the exterior of your house and outbuildings for signs of peeling paint. Wood exposed to the elements will deteriorate rapidly in wet winter weather, eventually leading to expensive and extensive repairs. Sand off areas with peeling paint and apply primer and paint.
While on the hunt for more energy-saving measures, contact your local utility company to find out your options for a free or discounted energy audit, which could include many of these fixes for free.
Energy-efficient fixes are proven to lower utility bills, sometimes drastically, and save homeowners money. Take a trip to the hardware store for a few cheap materials, learn more about energy efficiency at ENERGY STAR, and be prepared for a cheaper fall and winter.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.