Fall is the perfect time to do a survey of your house insulation, ferreting out and fixing leaks that could drive your winter heating bills even higher. With the climbing cost of electricity, gas and fuel oil, it is easier than ever to recoup the investment made in tightening up your cocoon.

Begin with the usual suspects -- doors and windows. Pick a day with at least a moderate breeze, and check the weatherstripping around all your exits and windows. A smoke candle or puffer can be useful in detecting air leaks. You could also try shutting a piece of paper in the door; if you can pull it out, there is a gap. Or stand outside at night while another person shines a flashlight around the door/window.

Replace/ repair the weatherstripping as necessary. Also check caulking around window panes for leaks. The weatherstripping on the door sweep is especially vulnerable and can let in a lot of cold air.

Next, check the exterior of your house wherever the outside wall is punctured, such as cable access, telephone lines, outside spigots for water lines, furnace, and dryer vents. Caulk as needed. Check the caulking around the outside of your windows and door frames, too.

The gasket on the bottom of your garage door should form a seal with the garage floor, which will keep wind and water from whipping through. Adjust the door or replace as needed.

Next, check the attic. Do you have the most insulation warranted for your area? If not, this is an investment that could pay off in only a few months. Make sure exhaust fans and pull-down stairways are also covered completely. This is also a great time to get your furnace tuned up, before the first real cold snap creates a deluge of service call requests.

A little work now, while the weather is pleasant, can save you money this winter.


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