Cut down your winter heating bill with these low-tech home hacks

how to save on winter heating bill costs
Winter heating bills can cost you a small fortune if you’re not careful, so we thought we’d share a few low-cost ways to prep your house for cold weather. We left out the obvious stuff like turning down your thermostat, drinking hot cider, and wearing six layers of Snuggies everywhere you go –  the stuff in this list is a bit more creative than that. Enjoy!

Bubble wrap your windows for better insulation

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 2.53.24 PMEven if you’ve got double-paned glass, you’re still likely losing heat through your windows. The problem is that glass just isn’t a very good insulator – but there’s an easy way to fix that: bubble wrap. The little pockets of air act like tiny little buffer zones that keep heat from escaping through the glass. It’s relatively cheap, too. You can get a gigantic roll of the stuff for around $10-20 bucks.

To stick it to your windows, just cut out strips to match the size of each pane, and use a spray bottle to apply a light mist on the window. The water should create a seal that effectively holds the bubble wrap against your window. If it falls off, just give it another light spray and reapply.

For those of you who want to insulate your windows without ruining the view, check out this window insulation kit from 3M.

Use aluminum foil to make your fireplace more efficient

aluminum foilFireplaces are wonderfully cozy to sit around in the colder parts of the year, but they’re really not that great for heating your home. The problem with most fireplaces is that they’re designed in such a way that a significant amount of heat gets pulled straight up the chimney and only a small amount radiates into you home. Furthermore, they can also create updrafts that suck heated air from the room. So, to overcome these problems and boost the efficiency of your fireplace, here are a few things you can do:

First of all, check to make sure your damper is in good working order. If you’ve got an older fireplace and the damper hasn’t been replaced in a few years, there’s a good chance that years of heating and cooling have caused it to warp, thereby exacerbating the problem of updrafts.

Second, install a fireback. These are generally just sheets of reflective material placed against the rear wall of your fireplace in order to radiate heat back into your house. People typically use sheets of stainless steel to make this happen, but you can get the same effect for a fraction of the price by coating the rear wall with heat-resistant metallic silver spray paint, or even just tacking up some aluminum foil. That being said, the aluminum foil method will only work for deep fireplaces with sufficient room between the fire and foil to keep the foil from getting damaged/blackened.

Lastly, if you don’t already have one, we highly recommend you get your hands on a glass fireplace door. They’re a bit on the spendy side, but they allow heat from the fire to pass through into your house while also preventing heat loss due to updrafts.

Insulate your outlets with foam cutouts

foam insulationWe’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you’re already aware of the importance of weather stripping your doors and windows to reduce drafts – but what you may not realize is that your outlets and switches might be causing just as much heat loss. Sure, the drafts escaping through any one outlet aren’t that significant, but with all the outlets in your house combined, those little drafts add up to a pretty substantial leak.

If your outlets aren’t already equipped with foam insulation pads, installing some is a great way to fight the draft. You can pick them up from your local hardware store for just a few bucks, and they can easily be installed in an hour or two using nothing more than a screwdriver. If you want to take things a step further, we’d also recommend caulking the perimeter of the outlet boxes to the surrounding drywall.

Got a wood stove? Put a pot of water on top to create a low-tech humidifier

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 4.27.37 PMNo only will doing this help moisten up the dry winter air in your house and stave off things like nosebleeds and dry skin, it’ll also keep your house warmer. Having even just a little bit of moisture in the air helps it retain heat longer, so if you’ve got a wood stove blazing away all the time, all you need to do is put a pot full of water on top. As it heats up, the water will slowly begin to evaporate and humidify the room.

*Pro tip: put a little bit of apple cider vinegar into the water to help keep the pot from developing mineral rings on the sides over time.

Use pipe insulation to make cheap DIY door draft guards

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 4.28.50 PMDrafts coming from outside your house are one thing, but drafts between rooms can be just as troublesome. You can save a lot of money by selectively heating certain sections of your house, so cutting down on air movement indoors is equally important. There are plenty of ways to do this, so rather than spending a bunch of money and an entire afternoon installing door bottom seals, you can combat inter-room drafts on the cheap with some pipe insulation. This stuff is extremely inexpensive and comes in various thicknesses, so make sure you get a size that’ll fit snugly under your door.

Know any other tips for cutting down on winter heating costs?  Share them with us in the comments!

Smart Home

It does everything you can imagine, but the Instant Pot Max has one major flaw

Instant Pot Max has more cooking functions and features than the Duo and most other IP models. Is the Max worth the higher price tag? We tested it out to find out. Here's what we like and don't like about it.
Deals

Amazon slashes Easter Week prices for Dyson vacuums and air purifiers

Amazon slashed the prices on many Dyson high-tech products, including vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and more for Easter Week. Dyson's premium household tools attract millions of fans and Amazon took deep discounts on popular products.
News

The Denali XL feels like one big-ass tiny home compared to others

The Denali XL is a tiny home that is quite spacious, offering almost 400-square-feet of space. It can be assembled for about $125,000 and features a massive living room and kitchen.
Outdoors

Perch above the fray (and impress Instagram) in the best rooftop tents

Like camping but hate sleeping on the ground? Then why not sleep under the stars and on top of your vehicle in a rooftop tent? Not only is it a fun way to camp but it offers a great vantage point. Here are the best rooftop tents available.
Deals

Amazon and Best Buy halve the price of the Facebook Portal for Mother’s Day

Amazon and Best Buy both cut the price in half for the Facebook Portal smart display for Mother's Day. The Portal's smart camera will follow you as you move around the room during video calls. The Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Smart Home

Ring home security system now works as a hub for smart home devices

Ring is helping the issue of smart home fragmentation with its Works With Ring program. It lets thousands of smart home devices built on Z-Wave connect to Ring's Alarm Base Station.
Smart Home

Philips Hue users can activate their favorite routines through Google Home

Philips Hue expanded its Google Home integration through the Gentle Sleep and Wake routine. Just give Google the proper instructions are your lights will brighten or dim over half an hour.
Smart Home

There will be 200 million smart speakers by year’s end, analysts say

A new report by the research and analysis firm Canalys predicts that more than 200 million smart speakers will be engaged by users by the end of 2019, which is a growth of over 82% from last year.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Smart Home

SMEG debuts colorful dual-fuel Portofino 48-inch ranges for no-compromise cooks

When SMEG launches new kitchen appliances, you can count on retro-classic design, gorgeous high-end finishes, envy-inducing functional wizardry, and lofty prices. This week SMEG launched its Portofino Dual-Fuel 48-inch Pro-Style Range.
Deals

Walmart offers big price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet and Farberware

Walmart made deep price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet, Farberware, and others. Air frying is faster, healthier, and easier to clean than traditional deep frying. You also can use most air fryers for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Deals

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…