Winterizing for Practically Nothing

You can get something for nothing. Here are some ways to winterize your house that are virtually free:

• Roll up a towel or throw rug to close gaps at the bottom of all exterior doors, but leave the gaps on interior doors free to allow heat to circulate between rooms.

• If you live in a snowy part of the country, bank the snow up against the house to provide a bit of insulation from the cold.

• Jason Raddenbach of Chimney Balloon suggests clearing the lint from the outside dryer vent. Make sure the flap closes completely when the dryer isn’t running. And while you’re at it, he says, vacuum out the muck from the HVAC return vent covers. If air cannot escape the dryer because of restrictions in the vent pipe, it will have to run longer, using more electricity.

• Mike Kuhn of HouseMaster recommends that homeowners flush the water heater through the drain valve to remove sediment, which “allows the gas or oil water heater to operate more efficiently and safely,” he says.

• Make sure that ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction, which will push hot air along the ceiling towards the floor. If they’re moving counterclockwise, their benefits are minimized.

• Clean out your gutters. In cold weather climates, this will prevent icicles from forming. Get the water to go down the gutters—where it’s supposed to go—versus on the sidewalks, where you end up with dangerous icy patches.

• The U.S. Department of Energy estimates you can save three percent on your energy bill for every degree you turn the thermostat down in the winter. In other words, for an annual heating and cooling bill of $1,000, if you move the thermostat down three degrees at night, you could save almost $100 each year.