With the cold weather comes much less motivation for most of us. We want to hibernate in our warm houses and forget about all of those nagging home improvement projects. But, the winter is a great time to tackle some of the smaller projects that regularly get overlooked. And by doing so now, you could save yourself some money in the future. So why not take a break from your winter hibernation and tackle a few effective home improvement projects?
Replacing Weather Stripping & Door Sweeps
When the winter comes, you can really begin to feel where your doors and windows might not be as efficient as they once were. Since the winter is a good time to feel where all of the cold weather leaks are at, you might as well take care of it.
If you have never replaced weather stripping before, it isn’t too difficult of a task. It can be a little bit time consuming though, especially if you don’t know the original manufacturer of your doors and windows. For step by step instructions, this is a very thorough description about how to choose and replace weather stripping. The pictures and descriptions listed for each type of weather stripping are extremely helpful, even if you have done this before and just need a refresher.
Replacing the door sweep, if it needs to be, while you are working on the weather stripping makes the most sense. And replacing a door sweep is usually pretty darn easy to accomplish also. Most of them come with pre-drilled holes so you know where to place it at the bottom of your door. You just have to make sure the seal is tight before you attach it for good.
Overall, weather stripping and door sweeps can be very inexpensive ways to save yourself some money in the long run. Depending upon where you live, and which type of weather stripping you decide upon, replacing weather stripping on one door can cost under $20. A door sweep can easily come in at under $10. So both of these are pretty effective home improvement projects that can save you a lot of money on your energy bill every month.
RELATED: 7 Simple Ways to Lower Your Bills
Insulating Your Hot Water Heater & Pipes
Other really effective home improvement projects that get severely overlooked are insulating your hot water heater and pipes. If you have a hot water heater that is under the house or in the garage, then this is really something you should take a look at. A hot water heater blanket can usually be found for under $30, but it can save you a lot of money!
The warmer the water in the hot water heater is kept, the faster it can heat up to the desired temperature, so you are wasting less energy. And by wasting less energy, you save money on your energy bill. Makes sense, right?
Now, not all of your pipes need to be insulated, obviously. You should probably only take a look at exterior pipes or pipes that are further away from the hot water heater. This is due to the fact that it takes them much longer to heat up. The longer it takes for the hot water to come out of the pipe, the more water you are wasting. And this costs you money!
Foam insulation for your pipes can cost somewhere between $1 – $5 per pipe usually. So this is a very inexpensive way to save yourself water and money in the long run.
Checking Air Filters & Vents
Replacing your air filters every 1 – 2 months is highly advised. A lot of us forget to do this regularly though. And by forgetting this one simple thing, we can cause our HVAC system to operate ineffectively. This can make it work harder and cost us more money on utilities due to that fact. But, if we replace them every month or two, depending upon the type of filter you choose and where it is located, this issue can be solved.
Usually, filters that are in the ceiling need to be replaced less than the floor filters. So keep this in mind when you are taking a look at your filters. And if you really want to save some money, then purchase the contractor pack of filters at a lower per piece price. This way you have a back stock of filters to grab when you need one also, instead of trying to remember to go and pick one up at the store.
Air filters can range in price, depending upon a few different factors:
- Size of the filters
- Filter rating (We usually get the FPR 4 or 7, because we have found them to work just as well as the FPR 9 or 10’s and cost a lot less)
- Individual or contractor pack
Ultimately, you should be able to pick up a single filter for somewhere between $4 – $8. A contractor pack can range much more widely, but the 3 pack we normally buy costs us around $13.
Another thing to regularly check while you are thinking about filters, are your air vents. Most of us don’t need all of our air vents on all the time. So if there are rooms you don’t regularly use, turn the air vent off and shut the door to that room. Or if you have a larger room with multiple air vents, consider turning one of them off. This makes your HVAC system work more effectively also. This is because you have then directed all of the warm air towards the spaces that you need it, as opposed to the spaces you don’t.
Appliance maintenance is another area that we regularly slack on when it comes to effective home improvement projects. You might not think of it as home improvement, per say, but it it helps your appliances run longer and more efficiently, it’s home improvement in my book. That way I don’t have to replace my appliances as often, and that saves me money!
The refrigerator is something that should be cleaned annually. And I don’t just mean the inside! The condenser coils in the refrigerator need to be cleaned off so that they operate properly. Over time, dust and debris build up and cause them to work harder to keep your food cool. And if you don’t regularly clean these coils, it can severely reduce the life of your refrigerator.
This project shouldn’t take you too long, and it probably won’t cost you anything either. So I like that!
Another appliance that gets overlooked is the dryer. Since the dryer vent is outside and usually out of sight, it becomes out of mind. But, the dryer vent can become clogged with lint and debris through time, so it should be cleaned out. Cleaning it out annually will help it run more efficiently and extend its life, just like cleaning the coils on your refrigerator.
This project shouldn’t really cost you anything either, as long as you have a decent vacuum with a extension hose. Here is the step-by-step process to clean out your dryer vent to help you potentially save up to $20 a month on your electric bill!
Effective Home Improvement Projects
Overall, there are a lot of things you could be doing this winter. But, tackling some much neglected home improvement projects is a great way to save yourself some money. Most of these won’t cost you much money to complete, which is a huge bonus. So don’t forget to take a look at your:
- Door and window weather stripping and sweeps
- Hot water heater and pipes
- Air filters and vents
- Refrigerator and dryer
Once you have checked all of these items, and replaced/repaired/cleaned everything, your house and bills will thank you. And then it’s time to get back to that winter hibernation, knowing you are now warmer and saving yourself some money in the process.
What are some of the most effective home improvement projects you plan to embark upon this winter?