On average, homeowners spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars heating their homes every winter. Fuel — no matter what kind you use — isn't getting any cheaper. Even in the Roanoke Valley, where our climate is fairly mild, we get some cold, cold days during winter, when your heating system has to work hard to keep up.
Depending on your current system and your budget, there are some easy and not-so-easy improvements that can help bring your costs down. The right answer for your home is probably a combination of improvements rather than a silver bullet.
Start with an inspection
If you feel like your heating system runs and runs and runs but your house is still cold, hire a licensed HVAC contractor to inspect your system and its components. A good inspection might cost you a couple of hundred dollars, but it's really the best way to ensure that everything is running properly and as efficiently as possible. If you're offered a free or discounted inspection, make sure that it covers the entire system and isn't limited to one component, such as your heat pump or furnace.
Caulk doors and windows
Caulking your doors and windows can help to prevent cold air from getting into your home through small cracks and crevices. This project should not cost a lot of money to complete, and you should be able to work on every window and door in your home in a matter of hours.
Replace or install weatherstripping on exterior doors
Weatherstripping the exterior doors of your house is probably the quickest and easiest way to make your home more energy efficient. Completing this project will help to prevent cold air from entering your house through the gaps between your door and the frame. As a result, your heating system will not need to work quite as hard to keep your family warm.
Install smart thermostats
Smart thermostats help you to control the temperature of every room in your house, making sure that each room only uses energy when necessary. Installing a smart thermostat will allow you to keep your kitchen and living room nice and toasty during the day and heat your bedroom right before you get to sleep. By not heating the rooms that you are not using, you can save a small fortune on your energy bills. In newer houses, smart thermostats are becoming the norm, so it's a nice upgrade to have.
Add insulation in the attic
Because heat rises, your home can lose a significant amount of heat through the roof. You can significantly reduce this heat loss by thoroughly insulating your attic. If your house still feels drafty, you may need to add insulation to the interior walls. This is more complex (and expensive), and usually requires a contractor. (Remodeling tip: Take advantage of open walls during remodeling projects, or add insulation if you add siding to your home.)
Install double-pane windows
Single-pane windows do not do a good job of keeping out the winter chill. If your home has these windows, you will almost certainly find yourself turning up the heat multiple times each day. To make your home more energy efficient, consider installing double-pane replacement windows, instead. Doing so will massively reduce the amount of heat that you lose through your windows every day and add at least a small chunk to your home's resale value.
Upgrade your system
This is the most expensive, least DIY solution on the list, but, especially if you live in an older home, it might be the option that makes the most sense. The final cost will depend on the configuration of your current system (for example, do you have ductwork that needs to be rerouted — or, in some homes, no ductwork at all!), what kind of fuel you use and the size of your home. And if you're wondering whether upgrading will help you at resale: The answer is almost certainly yes, especially if you're replacing a non-central system, such as a one-grate floor furnace or window air conditioning units. Most buyers take for granted that a home will have central heat and air.
The reality is that most of these projects will not slash your heating bills, but you will save a little money month to month, and your family will be much more comfortable.
Have questions about how other home improvement projects might affect the value of your home? Let's talk about your plans. Contact me at email@example.com or 540-793-0442.