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Low-Cost Home Upgrades

How to Save on Winterizing Your Home

The average American household spends a bone-chilling $2,200 annually on energy bills. Learn how to keep your costs as low as the temperature outside.

By Amy Chen
House with earmuffs illoJason Brownrigg

Hunt for air leaks. A total home energy audit includes this service, but it’s pricey—around $350. Instead, try the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector ($50, amazon.com), which identifies drafty areas in a home. Once you seal the problem spots, you could save up to 20 percent on energy costs.

Don’t overinsulate. Depending on where you live, you may not need insulation with the highest R-value (a measure of its ability to resist heat flow). For example, outfitting an 800-square-foot attic in Florida with high-quality R-60 fiberglass loose fill would cost about $2,480, whereas using R-30, which is sufficient in warmer climates, would run only about $1,120. To find out how much insulation you need, go to energystar.gov.

Change your filter only when it’s dirty. Install a whistle on your furnace ($1.70, amconservationgroup.com) that alerts you when your filter is partially clogged and will soon need to be replaced, says Ed Pollock, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Opt for a weatherproofing kit. If you buy plastic shrink wrap, weather stripping, and electrical-outlet sealers individually, you’ll pay about 30 percent more than if you buy them in a set ($58, amconservationgroup.com). Use all the components and you’ll reduce your energy costs by up to 20 percent.

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