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10 Ways to Save Money on Home Renovations

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Written by Oana Schneider

Are you thinking about finishing a home improvement project? If yes, what’s the purpose? Is it simply to change up the look of your home because you are tired of looking at the same-coloured walls? If this is the case, a simple and cheap repainting job will do the trick. However, if your goal for home improvement is more long-term, you need to invest time and effort in the project.

If you’d like to do a major remodelling of your kitchen because you love to cook and your current cooking space does not give you that much space to move, this is a worthy project to take on.

The good news is that despite the investment, it will give you up to 80% of recovered costs. This means that the major kitchen renovation will actually pay for itself in the long run, and even increase the resale value of your home should you decide to sell it in the future.

What about when it comes to other home improvements that will help you save money? An excellent example is a project that you can do to save energy during the winter. As you may already know, heating your home during the coldest months of the year requires a lot of energy. If you can take steps to make the heating of your home more efficient, you will save a lot of money on utility bills.

In the next section, we will take a look at the winter home improvement projects that you can take on, as well as other means for you to save money and energy during the winter season.

Top 10 Winter Home Renovations That Save Energy

To give you an idea about what else you can do to save energy for heating costs during the winter season, here are a few winter home improvement projects that you can take on:

Consider getting a home energy audit

Okay, this may not necessarily be a home improvement project, but it is an investment that is well worth your time and effort. Basically, you need to get in touch with the local power company in your area. You can get a home energy audit service for free, or you might need to pay a minimal fee.

Through it, a professional assessor will visit your house and help you figure out which appliances eat up a huge chunk of the house’s electricity usage. Which rooms are energy-wasters? Which parts can do with a better heating or cooling system? With the professional assessment that will be given during a home energy audit, you can make your house more energy-efficient – whether it’s being cooled in the summer or heated during the winter season.

Use caulk and seal up cracks

Perhaps the easier home improvement project that you can start with to save energy during the winter season is caulking and sealing. Using a caulking kit that you can easily find in any hardware store, use it to seal the area around heating ducts and the basement in the attic. If there’s still some material left from the previous winter, add more or replace the caulking material for better heating efficiency.

The same principle applies for the sealing part. Your goal is to seal all places where air can penetrate through the wall and cause drafts or temperature fluctuations. For bigger gaps which cannot be sealed using caulk, you can ask the staff at your local hardware store for solutions. It’s better if it is a do-it-yourself solution so you won’t have to spend anything on installation.

Buy a programmable thermostat

If you don’t already have one, buy a programmable thermostat right before the winter season starts. Remember how people always tell you that turning down that thermostat for even 1 degree will give you huge energy savings? This is absolutely true!

It especially gets easier if you have a programmable thermostat which gives you automatic, easy control over what the temperature of your home should be. A decent model of a programmable thermostat can pay for itself in as little as one and a half years, given the energy savings that it brings about.

Buy area rugs

There’s no cheaper way to retain heat inside your home than buying area rugs. Place them in rooms in the house where there is already a heating system installed so you can cosy things up.

Rugs on tiled or wooden floors add an excellent layer of insulation. Not only that, but the extra padding makes it safer for little tykes or elderly individuals to walk in – even while barefoot. Walking in floors with area rugs while wearing socks will make your body even warmer during the cold season.

Install glass doors on your fireplace

When you’re done using your fireplace, make sure to close the flue or have a glass door installed if there isn’t one. Fireplace doors keep the cold air from coming down into the house, while also preventing warm air from seeping into the chimney.

10 Ways to Save Money on Home Renovations

Invest in insulated doors or storm doors

Storm doors and windows are designed to retain heat inside the house during the winter season. This is an excellent winter home improvement project to take on, especially if you live in a region which experiences particularly harsh winters.

If you do not have storm windows, use a window insulation kit. You should also consider buying insulated garage and exterior doors if you do not want to buy a storm door. Again, the goal of these home additions is to retain as much heat inside the house as possible.

Invest in replacement windows

If you have the funds for it, replacement windows which are analyzed and installed by a skilled professional will allow you to save loads on future utility bills.

A temporary solution is to wrap old windows in plastic to keep the cold out. By simply putting a plastic film over a window, you can cut down on the heat lost through the pane.

There are cheap window insulation kits that you can buy from the hardware store and takes very little effort to install. But if you can, invest in replacement windows which are designed to make your home’s heating and cooling system more efficient. The downside is that it takes around ten years before you see a payback on this investment. If you plan to live in your house for a few decades more, this is a worthy investment that you might want to consider.

Insulate your attic

According to the US Department of Energy, investing in attic insulation is a winter home improvement project that will pay for itself in two to three years.

Let’s say that the area of the attic is 300-square feet. Using a 12-inch insulation will cost a little under $200. But given the big effect that this will have on more efficiently heating up your home, the costs are well worth it in the end.

Replace old appliances with new ones that have an energy-saving feature

This tip applies whether it’s the summer, winter or any other season. Replacing old appliances with new ones will give you huge energy savings. If you have a vintage refrigerator which is more than 10 years old, it’s probably sucking up more power than you’d like.

If you want to preserve the vintage look, simply use the front door of the appliance to customize a modern model with an ‘Energy Save’ feature. When replacing big ticket appliances, make sure to look for one with a high Energy Star rating.

Have your heating system tuned up

Finally, before the start of the winter season, make sure to check and tune up your heating system. For some, it’s all a matter of replacing or cleaning up a dirty furnace filter. For others, it requires more intricate work – especially if you are not in the habit of having your heating system tuned up.

Another benefit of having your furnace checked and tuned up by a professional is the elimination of possible carbon monoxide leaks. Remember that your furnace will be blasting hot air at full blast during the height of the winter season, so the mechanism will be working overtime. More than energy savings, safety should be your number one priority so make sure that your heating system is ready-to-use right before the first snowflake falls.

There are plenty of other ways for you to save money during the winter season. Using LED instead of traditional lights for your holiday decor is one.

You can also make home-cooked meals inside, because the warmth from the stovetop or the oven will be a welcome addition to the heat that’s already inside your home.

You should also, as a family, take steps towards saving water during the winter season. Make sure that everyone in the household participates so that all your efforts can add up to huge energy savings during the coldest months of the year.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

12 Comments

  • That heat shrink film you use to cover windows has been a lifesaver for us in a few of the older apartment buildings we’ve lived in. You wouldn’t think (or, at least, I didn’t think) just ‘plastic wrapping’ your windows would make such a difference, but it really does! One place we lived in had an honest-to-goodness draft running from the cracks around the entry door to the big windows by the balcony; covering the window in the film put a stop to that right away (and let the poor radiator finally rest from its endless struggle!). I can’t recommend it enough.

    • Make sure that when you’re applying it (if you’re going to do it yourself) that it isn’t very humid otherwise you run the risk of getting moisture trapped under the plastic sheet. This will eventually cause it to bubble a bit and look unsightly.

      It can sometimes be remedied after the fact if you have a straight-edge that you can drag along the window to pull the air pocket out, but that often ends up tearing the plastic. Your mileage may vary.

  • I am focusing on home heating equipment improvement since it directly relates with home safety. Carbon monoxide leak is one of the most dangerous gas that exist in home. This improvement should always include carbon monoxide detector improvement. I mean re-check all of carbon monoxide inside home, add if necessary.

  • I’ve mentioned it in past posts but getting your hot water tank properly insulated can result in some substantial savings to your gas bill. This is especially true of older homes which may have their hot water tank in a cellar or something wasting its radiant heat in warming the cellar which doesn’t really have people habitating it.

    Make sure you have someone knowledgeable take a look as it can pose a fire risk if you don’t get it applied properly, but it’s otherwise a great way to save money each and every month.

    • It’s amazing how many people don’t realize how smart the insulation idea is. Of course, there are risks involved when you DIY, but letting the professionals insulate your hot water tank is always an incredibly smart idea. It’s not that costly, but it will save you a noticeable amount of money across the course of a few years.

  • I’m actually considering getting smart windows, where they become opaque or transparent depending on if I need it or not. I think it’s time I upgraded my windows. I think it’s also time that I get my heating system tuned up. I’ve felt like it’s been quite ineffective lately, and the weather is getting cold.

    • Smart windows can be pretty pricey, so it’s important to try and minimize your overall costs when installing them. If you’re trying to handle every window in your home, then the cost is really going to add up fairly quickly. They’re a great innovation, but the price still needs to come down as more and more companies begin to offer such products.

      • It’s true, I guess I should wait for a little bit longer. Perhaps in a few years, they wil develop something even better, and the investment I made on smart windows will be returned faster by its use. Thanks for the advice!

  • I am glad to run into this because I live in a two family house. It is actually a one family that was converted into 2 apartments because it is so HUGE. My apartment is actually in the attic and I have been having issues with heat since I moved in March earlier this year. My apartment is duplex, but the bedrooms are upstairs (the attic). It is extremely cold up here and I was actually looking into options to keep the cold air out. There are heaters upstairs because it is complete converted into an apartment, but compared to my lower level of the apartment, the radiators don’t even hot up here. I will definitely be trying the 12″ insulation idea.

  • You reminded me I really should do a bit more to try to keep some extra money in my wallet. My one big tip I caught on to recently was using bubble wrap over windows. You just mix a spray bottle with water and bleach or dishwashing detergent and give your window a good spray. Afterwards, press that bubble wrap against it and you should feel a noticeable difference. Now, admittedly this is best for basement windows or ones you don’t really need look outside of.

  • I would have never thought about adding glass doors to my fireplace. That is interesting. I have never noticed a draft from around that area. One tip I learned from college is to close off rooms that are not used or rarely used. It is a simple tip, but it made a difference in how warm the other rooms stayed. What tips can anyone offer to people who rent apartments in buildings without insulation? That is a real challenge.

  • I live in an older home, and it could sure use many of these. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace here, but did in my last place, and I can definitely see how glass doors would block the heat from going out and the cold air from entering the house via one. I grew up in a home with storm doors and windows, and they do many a huge difference in keeping the cold out. I have used the foam tape here, and have seen a difference in the energy bills year round.

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