10 Affordable DIYs to Help Save Energy and Money in the Winter

While winterizing your home for the long, cold months ahead can get pricey, we put together a list of quick and affordable DIYs that are easily done to keep you warm when it’s frigidly cold out.

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1. Install quilted curtains – Quilts are wonderful in keeping you warm at night, so they’re a great idea in keeping to cold out and the warmth in. Energy Boomer shows us how to make the perfect one for a window.

Cost: $20-$40, depending on what fabric you use.

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2. Caulk and seal air leaks – Air leaks can waste a lot of your energy dollars. Whether leaks are letting hot air inside during the warmer months or letting in drafts during the cooler season, one of the quickest energy- and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weather strip all cracks and large openings to the outside. Air takes the path of least resistance, so you should aim to seal the big holes first. We’ve laid out some simple instructions for sealing most of these air leakage pathways — but if you’re sealing heating and cooling ducts, we suggest contacting contractor that’s familiar with the different air sealing methods often best done with ductwork.

Most caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges that fit in half-barrel caulking guns (if possible, purchase one with an automatic release). Some pressurized cartridges do not require caulking guns. When deciding how much caulking to purchase, consider that you’ll probably need a half-cartridge per window or door and four cartridges for the foundation sill. Caulking compounds can also be found in aerosol cans, squeeze tubes, and ropes for small jobs or special applications — but usually only lasts a few years. First time using a caulking gun? eHow.com has some great tips.

Cost: $3 (caulk) and $5-$20, depending on which gun you order.

Front Door Snake

3. Door snake/Draft stopper – Draft stoppers can run a little on the expensive side, but if you have a yard of fabric and some rice at home, it’s relatively easy to make one. We found the perfect one from 17 Apart that lets you customize your stopper size to the door.

Cost: $5 for fabric, $2 for rice

4. Turn down water heater – Simply turning down the temp on the water heater from 140° to 120° could save you more than 15% a month on utility bills.

Cost: free

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5. Bubble wrap windows – Use bubble wrap as an easy and highly effective window insulator this winter. Cut to size, spray window with fine mist of water, stick bubble side to the glass: instant insulation.

Cost: $10 or free if you have any laying around

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6. Use residual heat – After baking cookies or a casserole, leave the oven door propped open to let the heat warm the house. Be aware of small children and pets when doing so.

Cost: free

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7. Hot water bottle – You can turn down the thermostat at night and snuggle up with a hot water bottle to keep you warm.

Cost: $7-$20

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8. Change air filter – Changing your filter is one of  the easiest things you can do for your heating system, it’s also one of the most important. You should change the filter in your furnace at least every 60 days or even once a month. This keeps the unit running smoothly and efficiently. A dirty filter can result in anything from high electric bills (due to the extra effort the unit has to make to get air through the dirty filter) to a broken-down system.   

Cost: $25-$40

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9. Bundle up at home – If you’re walking around in shorts and a tank at home in the wintertime, then you’re doing it wrong. Wear layers — no need to go overboard — but enough to be comfortable while at home. Don’t forget those slippers!

Cost: free or whatever you paid for the clothes

Felted Wool Balls

10. Wool dryer balls – You wouldn’t expect wool to help make such a difference in laundry, but it can. We put together a tutorial to make your own wool dryer balls.

Cost: $11

Looking for more ways to save money? EnerChange has paired up with CenterPoint Energy to help offset the cost of equipment that you purchased this year. Do you qualify? Check here. Hurry, rebates end December 31 of 2014.

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