how to winterize a house

A tried-and-true tip to staying warm on a budget? Localize your heat source, and build your daily habits around the fire or an electric heater.


Still recovering from the sticker shock you got from your last heating bill? These simple tricks can help lower your costs and keep you warm this winter.

When the temperature dips below freezing, cranking up the thermostat — and leaving it there — is an easy fix to fight off the cold. But it’s an expensive one, as you’ll realize once you receive your first heating bill for that home for sale in Denver, CO, you bought in the spring.

So, short of shivering all winter, what’s a home dweller to do? Learn how to winterize a house with these tips, which can save you money — without sacrificing warmth.

Invest in a programmable thermostat

Doing so allows you to keep your house warm while you’re home (in the morning when you’re getting ready, at night when you come home from work) without having the heat run all day. “They cost under 100 bucks and they’ll last forever,” says Mitchell Ingerman, president of Aurora Energy Advisors, an energy consulting firm in New York.

Buy one that has at least four settings (so that you can set it for different times on weekdays and weekends) and set the heat to increase about a half-hour before you’ll be home. Tip: Fight the urge to turn the heat way down when you’re out. “Expecting the heat to go from 60 to 70 degrees in a half-hour isn’t efficient either,” says Ingerman.

Deal with drafty windows and doors

It’s easy and inexpensive to seal entry points, and you’ll save heat — and money — from being thrown out the window. Ingerman suggests purchasing a weatherstripping kit or caulking the frame around doors and windows. If you already have weatherstripping but it’s worn or old, replace it. Bonus: Making your home more energy-efficient can boost your home’s value too.

Localize your heat source

If you spend most of your evening in one room (e.g., watching TV in the den), consider buying an electric heater, says Ingerman. You’ll be able to keep the thermostat low, and the room you’re in will stay toasty. Just be sure to turn off the heater before going to bed.

Don’t fall for companies that claim they can lower your utility bills

You probably get fliers in the mail from third-party energy suppliers that guarantee savings on your electric bill. “Energy prices fluctuate, so these companies will wait until it’s at a high point to contact you and offer to lock you in at a lower rate,” says Ingerman. “You may save a few dollars for the first few months. But after that, the price will go down and you’ll be locked into a higher rate.”

Use reusable furnace filters

Instead of replacing your filter every few months (or not at all because you don’t want to spend the money), buy a permanent filter that can be hosed off when it’s clogged. They’re more expensive upfront, but you’ll save money after a year or so of not buying disposable filters month after month.

Buy a chimney balloon

Even if the flue is closed, hot air can still escape from your chimney. An inflatable chimney balloon will stop this from happening. Bonus: It’ll automatically deflate if you forget to remove it before lighting a fire.

Let the sun shine

Into your house, that is. Keep your curtains open during the day and allow the sun to help warm your rooms, which will keep your furnace from running constantly. Subsequently, close your curtains at night to keep out drafts — and nosy neighbors.