by Ellen Barnes

I live in an old 1920s bungalow with all the original windows. Needless to say I get a pit in my stomach every time I find my energy bill in the mailbox, especially during the fall and winter months. This fall I’m going to take the winterizing process seriously and see if I can’t reduce my energy bill and keep more of that precious heat in my house where it belongs. Here are five easy things I plan on doing myself:

How Do You Plug a Chimney?

chimney balloon

1) PLUG THE CHIMNEY. First off, I have a chimney/fireplace that I’ve never used because I’m not certain it’s usable. The guy who remodeled our house simply stuffed an old, yucky sheet up into the flue to block the flow of air, and that’s all that’s been between the inside of my home and the great outdoors for the past seven years. Supposedly as much as $300 annually can get lost up a chimney. So, I’m ordering a chimney balloon to close up the space. Have you heard of these? They are basically big, thick plastic bags that you inflate inside the bottom of your chimney flu. They’re designed to stop cold drafts and odors and save heat. If you do use your chimney, just make sure you have a top-sealing damper that’s in good working order, and you’ll see the same sort of dramatic energy savings.


How to Insulate Windows With Weatherstriping

window weatherstripping

2) WEATHERSTRIP WINDOWS. On average 10 to 25 percent of a home’s heat escapes through its windows. Obviously, the best option for preventing this is to replace your windows, which is certainly something that Stratton Exteriors can do for you. But if that’s not in your budget, there are some pretty solid DIY methods for preventing some of this massive energy loss. If we’re talking about windows that you don’t open because they’re so ancient that they’re stuck closed (which is the case with me) your best option is to bust out a caulk gun and go to town sealing up any places where you suspect air is entering or exiting. If we’re talking about windows or doors with movable parts, then we recommend weatherstripping them–also a super easy (and inexpensive) thing to do yourself.


How Do I Stop Cold Air Coming Through My Door?

draft dodger

3) DODGE THE DRAFT. If you or someone you know has rudimentary sewing skills and a bag of rice, you are all set to make a “draft dodger,” also known as a “door snake.” I made one a few years ago to seal up the draft coming from my basement, and it’s still going strong. The one pictured above is from the Not Martha blog and actually makes use of a couple of pieces of foam insulation, as well as some rad upholstery fabric. OR you can just order a twin draft guard from Amazon for $9.99.


Does Ceiling Fan Direction Really Matter?

ceiling fan


4) REVERSE YOUR FAN. Did you know–because I really didn’t know until sometime last year–that that tiny little switch on your ceiling fan is designed to switch the direction that your fan blades travel? By reversing its direction from counterclockwise for summer operation, to a clockwise rotation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, so you can extra use out of all that pricy warm air you’re pumping into your home.


How Do I Set My Thermostat to Save Money?

nest thermostat to save money5) MIND YOUR THERMOSTAT. You may already be obsessive about your thermostat; I think people either are or aren’t. I am; my husband isn’t. But it pays to mind that bad boy, since for every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll shave between 1 and 3% off your heating bill. You may want to consider buying a programmable thermostat; they sell for as little as $30 and save the average family $180 a year.

DIY Home Winterization

Do you have any plans to winterize your own home this winter? I want to hear about them in the comments.