Low cost ways to winterize your home

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  -- Cold weather is finally here with lows now in the 20’s.  That means it’s time to prepare your home for the cold winter months.

“Don’t wait too long.  A lot of people do and then it’s a rush on the stores.  Don’t wait until the temperatures go down to zero," said Brian Chisman with Menards in Fishers.

Chisman told FOX59 one of the simplest things you can do to winterize your home is to start by insulating your pipes, especially if they are near a cold space.  Many of the foam insulation kits simply wrap up around your pipes and they’re often only pennies per foot.  They can come in 4 packs that are about 3 feet long, for only a few dollars.

Winterizing your doors, is also just a couple of dollars.  Insulation kits work great around doors and can be applied easily just using sticky tape.  It helps prevent unnecessary cold air from entering your home. It might also makes sense to use a draft guard on the bottom of your door`s interior.  For areas with gaps and cracks, there are several types of foams you spray in to fill the voids, shutting out the cold air.  Make sure you get the right one for your material because some types expand more than others.

“We also tell people not to forget about proper insulation.  The “R” you see on the bags of insulation applies to the products ability to resist heat transfer, so the higher the R value, the more it can keep the heat inside your home and keep the cold outside,” said Mark Wachowski, Asst. GM Menards in Fishers.

Insulation is key, and it doesn't cost that much.  Attics are often poorly insulated.  It's the same for some walls, and garages rarely have insulation.  By using proper insulation, you can save as much as 20% on your heating bill during the winter months.  Don’t forget about your windows because there are often more than one of two dozen windows around your home.

Cracks around window frames are a popular escape point for warm air.  Check for weak points by running the palm of your hand around the edge of the frame.  Patch the weak points with a sealant by squirting it on and smoothing it over.  That’s one way to keep the cold air out more permanently.   There's also a temporary fix you can remove in the warmer months for under $3!

“You can buy several products that cover your window.  You can stretch this product over your windows.  It’s just a peel and stick kit.  You'd lay it around the trim work, stick it right on, then you hit it with your blow dryer and it'll make it clear like glass,” said Wachowski.

It might be worth investing in double pane windows if you haven`t already.  This could save you hundreds of dollars on your utility bill, although there is the upfront cost.  The use of window coverings is also a good money saver.  Closing blinds or curtains after dark traps in the warm air and prevents drafts, especially if the drapes have thermal backing for added warmth retention.  One key area that is often overlooked is floor gaps.  Most homes have gaps between the skirting board and the floor, and if you have floorboards, there will likely to be a few gaps between them too.

Silicone sealer works great to fill the gaps, and putting a rug down is a good idea as well.  And don’t forget about stuff on the outside of your house.  Disconnect any hoses attached to water spigots so they don’t freeze or trap water.  They could freeze and then expand into your house and eventually break inside your walls.  An inexpensive spigot cover is also a good idea.

There are other ways to keep your home safe in the winter that can be more pricey.  You might want to think about buying a generator if you often have power problems.  But generators are like snow blowers.  People often only think about buying them once the power is out or the snow has started to fall.

"We have a variety of generators to choose from.  You just need to pick the one that is right for you.   The capacity of the generator will depend on how many things you want powered inside your home.  We also have several  snow blowers, even one that is basically a power snow shovel that's electric.  It's priced under $90,” said Nick Bartz, General Manager Menards Fishers.

For bigger driveways and jobs, you can get a one and two stage snow blower with a variety of price tags.  A few more simple ideas to help your home stay warm in the winter is to run ceiling fans in reverse.  That brings the warm air back down from your ceiling.  Most fans have a switch to flip their direction.  Older models require you to flip the fan blades.  You should also flush out your irrigation system if you have one and give your heating system a tune-up before it gets really cold and everyone is calling their furnace company.