Home & Garden

Save money, feel warmer this winter

Feeling chilly? Winter means turning on the furnace – and increased heating bills. But there are ways to make staying warm a little less painful to your wallet.

Experts at The Family Handyman magazine came up with their top three tips for saving money (and energy) this winter while cutting down on heating costs:

• Get an energy audit: This includes a series of tests that tell you the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Such audits are often available through your utilities provider. Based on test results, the auditor will recommend low-cost improvements to save energy and larger upgrades that will pay you back within five to seven years .

This is a simple way to uncover solutions to reduce your household’s energy consumption.

• Find attic leaks: Small air leaks into uninsulated attic space are a major source of heat loss in many homes. A hole in the ceiling can act like a chimney, bringing expensive heated air into your attic, while holes around your windows and doors are sucking cold air into the house. With some inexpensive materials (such as caulking) and a day’s labor, you can save lots of money on heating by sealing these holes and cracks.

• Seal leaks in ductwork: Sealing leaky joints in heating, ventilating and air conditioning ducts is a simple, cheap DIY project that can reduce your energy costs by hundreds of dollars a year. When heated or cooled air escapes from the ducts, especially in the basement and attic, the furnace or air conditioner has to run longer (and use more fuel) to bring the living area of the house to the desired temperature. Use silicone caulk and foil tape to seal the leaky joints.

For more tips on winterizing your home and saving money, click on www.familyhandyman.com.

– Debbie Arrington