As temperatures fall in autumn and winter, the cost to keep a warm home begins to rise. Winterizing is necessary to avoid freeze-related home damages and keep your heating budget manageable. Pick up a few of these tested tips, and you can help control those energy and financial leaks before they start! (Also, check out 6 Ways To Save On Fall Maintenance.)

IN PICTURES: Home Renovations That Don't Pay

This most common form of winterization involves sealing the cracks around movable joints in your home, most commonly for windows and doors. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are many kinds of weatherstripping products on the market, including vinyl, copper, aluminum, felt, reinforced foam or stainless steel. By detecting air leaks, you can determine which windows and doors you should focus on first, and then measure the perimeters of each to know how much you will need to purchase. Additionally, it is recommended to add 5-10% in your calculations to accommodate waste from measurement or cutting errors.

Since each product is designed to work in a different area of the home, read product packaging carefully to determine if it is best suited for windows or doors, as well as indoor or outdoor use. weatherstripping should always be applied to clean, dry surfaces and shouldn't interfere with the operation of the window or door.

Door Sweeps
Many of the same manufacturers that offer weatherstripping products also make door sweeps to accommodate various sizes of doors. They are most effective when installed at the same time as weatherstripping, as they require many of the same measurements. Automatic sweeps are available for a steeper price, but are easier on carpet.

Sealing Cracks
Perhaps the most quick and simple way to guard your interior against chilly breezes and pests is with a commercial sealant. They come in many varieties, including expandable foam, silicone caulking, and oil or resin, among others. Each type of sealant will have a different use, although it is recommended that you avoid sealing gaps larger than one inch. For best results, the area being sealed should be clean, dry, and free of any previous sealant, and the product should be applied in one continuous line, as compared to multiple, short applications. Because some types of caulking can shrink over time, avoid being skimpy on your application. (You also might want to think about winterizing your portfolio; check out 5 Businesses That Rise As The Temperature Falls.)

Storm Windows
If your home's windows came with additional storm panes, it is important to install them in the weeks before colder weather starts. If not, you may find it too expensive to purchase stand-alone storm windows. For a more affordable approach, plastic insulation kits can give windows of any size or shape a better insulating factor when installed on the inside of the home. Kits start at around $3 per window, and usually include everything needed for installation.

Hot Water Heater Wrap
The majority of homes still use a single electric or gas hot water heater for all of their hot water needs, and covering these appliances with an insulator can prevent heat from escaping during the winter months. Covers, or "blankets", can be purchased at most home improvement stores for between $35 and $70 dollars, and are easy to install without professional help. However, be certain that the placement of a blanket will not void your manufacturer's warranty.

IN PICTURES: 6 Generic Products That Are Just As Good

Clean Gutters
Leftover leaves and debris can cause gutters to clog, causing headaches for homeowners when the temps reach freezing. To be sure that your gutters aren't warped or broken from ice building up and expanding over the winter, do one final clean before the snow flies.

Get a Furnace Check-Up
While this one may involve the help of a professional, it can be well worth the cost. Have your furnace or heating system inspected at least once a year, before the elements require you to turn it on. A simple inspection of the working parts can ensure that you'll have heat when you need it, and it can prevent a costly after-hours emergency call when you'd least expect it! While you're at it, make sure your vents are clean and any filters have been changed. Your furnace professional or a helpful home store associate should be able to point you in the right direction for the type of filter you will need.

The Bottom Line
It's a long list, but once you've tackled all the necessary winterizing tasks, you can sit back and stay warm all winter long. Spending some time and money well before the weather turns cold can provide a wonderful return on a much-needed investment! (For related reading, take a look at 9 Ways To Save On Winter Bills.)

Check out the latest financial news in Water Cooler Finance: History's Biggest Rogue Trading Scandal.

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    Top 5 Home Renos For Your Money

    Here are five renovations that return most of your investment when it’s time to sell your home.
  2. Investing Basics

    Tiny House Movement: Making Market Opportunities

    The tiny house movement throws all assumptions about household budgeting and mortgage management out the window, and creates new market segments too.
  3. Retirement

    10 Ways to Retrofit Your House for a Senior

    A checklist of renovations a residence may need as you get older – or if you have an elderly person living with you.
  4. Retirement

    Retrofitting v. Moving: What's Better for Seniors?

    Should you spend money to make your home senior-friendly or to buy a new place? Personal needs and project size determine which makes more financial sense.
  5. Personal Finance

    Should You Renovate or Move?

    Besides cost, what factors should you consider in deciding whether to remodel your home or move? This tutorial guides you through the steps.
  6. Home & Auto

    4 Home Upgrades That Don’t Pay

    Many remodeling projects sound good in theory, but don’t recoup their costs when it’s time to sell the house.
  7. Home & Auto

    7 Tips to Cost-Effectively Landscape Your New Home

    Boost your new home's value and curb appeal with smart and cost-effective landscaping tips.
  8. Home & Auto

    Hiring a Contractor vs. DIY: Cost – Benefits

    When you want to change something about your home, the first question to ask yourself is whether it’s more cost-effective to DIY or hire a professional.
  9. Credit & Loans

    5 Prerequisites For Buying a House

    Don't find the perfect house only to discover that you don't meet mortgage qualifications. Know the prerequisites for buying a home.
  10. Home & Auto

    Before you Buy That Home: Find a Great Realtor

    Most people think of a good realtor as a successful salesperson, but we should not assume than that's what makes a great or even a good realtor.
  1. Do mortgage escrow accounts earn interest?

    A bank is not required to pay interest on any escrow accounts (also mortgage impound accounts) it holds for its customers. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the best ways to pay off my mortgage quickly?

    There are two main strategies for paying off a mortgage more quickly, which can be used alone or in tandem: making larger ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the pros and cons of a simple-interest mortgage?

    The basic disadvantage of a simple interest mortgage lies in the fact that unless the borrower conscientiously makes all ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is a waiver of subrogation clause better for a tenant or a landlord?

    A waiver of subrogation clause is good for both a tenant and a landlord. A waiver of subrogation is a two-way agreement in ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Is the high cost of installing solar panels justified by the money saved by going ...

    In favorable locations and under suitable conditions, homeowners can recuperate the cost of installing solar panels. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. If my home runs power off the grid, what is the specific environmental impact?

    Running a solar-powered home with energy that is natural or off the grid has several environmental benefits. By using solar ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!