Preparing for cooler temperatures

Getting yourself ready for a long Arkansas winter is easy. All you really need is a good coat and a nice pair of gloves. Unfortunately, until someone invents a hoodie for your house, it takes a little more effort to prepare your home for cooler temperatures.

Preparing for winter might seem like an unnecessary chore, but the financial benefits definitely outweigh a small to-do list over a few weekends.

Winter heating costs are on the rise, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts Americans will pay 15 percent more for heating expenses this year. That number can skyrocket even more if windows are poorly insulated, the plumbing breaks or the heating system is outdated.

Ensuring your home is prepped properly can save a nice chunk of change while protecting your property for years to come.

Start by checking windows and doors for drafts. Little gaps in windows, doors or cracks in the walls are letting cool air in raising your energy bill and wasting 5 to 30 percent of your home’s energy use per year according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

If you find cold air is rushing in from underneath your door and warm air is rushing out, an easy and surprisingly effective solution is the draft snake. Adopted during the Great Depression era, a draft snake can easily be made by rolling up a towel or filling up a pouch of fabric with kitty litter or sand then tucked underneath or in front of the door.

If your windows are reaching retirement age and cold air is leaking through the cracks, try covering them with Bubble wrap. Although it might look funny, the Bubble wrap will trap the pockets of air that cool down your home while still allowing light to come through.

It’s easy to check around windows for gaps too. Have a friend stand outside with a blow dryer while you hold a lit candle inside. If the dryer blows out the candle, then it’s time to reseal with caulk. Remember to also check doors and windows outside to see if they’ve deteriorated over time too.

An easy fix to seal drafts around a door is installing a storm door to help reduce air floor. Properly installed storm doors can reduce the warm air out and cold air in and increase energy efficiency by 45 percent.

Once you’ve tackled drafts, it’s time to look at how you heat your home. You want it warm so you keep the thermostat high, but your wallet is going to suffer. Invest in a programmable thermostat and set it to 50 or 55 degrees when you go to bed and while you’re at work. You won’t enjoy the warmer temperatures while you’re asleep or away from the house anyway and turning down the temperature 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save 10 percent a year on your energy bill. You can also change the rotation of your ceiling fans to clockwise to produce warmer air and help cut your heating costs by 10 percent.

Finally, don’t forget to prep your plumbing for the winter too. Conventional water heaters are typically set at 140 degrees, but most households only need a setting of 120 degrees to be comfortable. Check your water heaters and lower them to 120 degrees to save 6 to 10 percent on your bill annually.

In addition, drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and arrange to have any in-ground sprinkler pipes blown out. Roll up garden hoses and store them inside. Identify any problem pipes that are prone to freezing in the house and consider using heat tape to keep them warm during extremely cold weather. This won’t save money on your heating bills, but it can help avoid unfortunate pipe bursts later in the winter and costly repair bills.

All of these ideas are easy to warm up to and help keep you and your family warm this winter while keeping money in your bank account. Looking for more ways to save this winter and all year long? Visit Conway Corp’s Energy Smart website at and find energy-saving tips plus discover how to receive a free energy audit from Conway Corp or see if you quality for a zero-percent interest loan for energy-saving improvements in your home.