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Dog in SnowWinterizing on the Cheap

Cheap tips for preparing your home for winter.
 Although parts of the country are seeing deadly heat wave, we are reminded that winter is just around the corner. Some areas could see their first snowfall in a little over a month. Preparation for cold weather does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money and when money is tight- that is important. Here are five economical tips that focus on a large bang for a small buck.

 1. Cracks that allow air to flow in and out can be one of the biggest waste of heating (and cooling) dollars. Small cracks can be filled with caulk (about $2 per tube at a dollar store). One of the best ways to fill larger cracks is to use expanding foam insulation which is sold for about $4 per can at most hardware stores. Worst case scenario, if money is an issue, you can stop stop air flow by filling cracks with rags. Rolled up towels can also help stop airflow under doors when placed on the floor against a door.
 2. Windows, especially single pane, are a second major loss of heat. I once had a house that you could stand in the living room and feel the air flow! Many stores sell clear plastic to go over windows, but it can cost upwards of $3 per window. Another alternative is to purchase cheap plastic drop cloths found in the paint section. A 10’x25’ plastic sheet about .5mil thick should not cost more than $3 and with careful cutting, you will probably get three to five windows covered. Cut the plastic, roll the edges inward to create a “puffed” space, then staple it to the wall or molding around the window. Trapping air between the plastic and window will cut down on drafts and loss of heat. Putting plastic over an attic trapdoor in the ceiling may not look pretty, but will also help prevent air from escaping.
 3. Changing furnace filters is essential to good airflow. Cheap filters only cost a few dollars, but unrestricted airflow decreases wear and tear on the furnace and allows air to flow around the house better.
 4. Upgrading an old thermostat to a digital model may make your house more comfortable and allow the you to keep the temperature at a lower setting. Many old thermostats have a liquid in a glass tube that moves in reaction to the temperature. This movement turns the furnace on or off but usually allows for a wide range in temperature, sometimes as much as five degrees which makes a room alternate from too cold to too hot. A digital thermostat will usually fluctuate a room by only a couple degrees making it much more comfy. Programmable digital thermostats run upwards of $30 and would save many more energy dollars if there are regular times your home is unoccupied. However, if money is tight, a regular digital thermostat should cost about $25.
 5. Winter is not the time to put away the fans either. If the house is not equipped with ceiling fans, keep the air circulating in the room and bring the warm air down from the ceiling with a small or medium fan turned upward. Bringing the warm air down will help reduce heating costs.
 There you go- five simple, low cost tips to save money this winter. Take a few minutes before the cold arrives and the savings will start as soon as the weather turns.


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