11 DIY tricks for winterizing your home

1. Attach aluminum foil to the walls behind your heaters

Your radiators, if you have them, aren't just heating up your rooms but the walls they're next to too. If you spread aluminum foil against the wall behind them though, the heat from the radiators' back sides will get reflected back into the space instead of absorbed by the wall. But be sure to use aluminum foil — anything else is a fire hazard.

2. Seal up drafty windows with acrylic caulk

Windows are the biggest culprit for lost heat. If the frames aren't well-sealed, your heating costs are going to be incalculably higher than they should be. Squeezing some acrylic latex caulk onto the leaky spots will secure them though. First be sure to remove any old insulation leftovers. Then apply the caulk onto your window frames, squeezing the tube with an even pressure. You can also apply caulk with a cartridge gun. This method works for wooden and plastic frames.

Tip: Feel around for the uninsulated spots or move a match or lighter along the window frames. Wherever the flame flickers, you have some work to do!

Flickr/Alyson Hurt

3. Use self-adhesive insulating seals inside the window-frames

Window frames themselves get drafty but also between the windows and their frames, and for this there's a very handy solution: self-adhesive window seals. You choose which density and material you want (foam or rubber, for instance), clean the inside of the frame, and then stick it on! It also works beautifully for doors.

Tip: take care to replace the tape regularly because it gets torn and brittle over time and becomes ever less effective.

4. Stop the draft with a draft stopper (of course)

For anyone who doesn't feel like serious tinkering around with windows and doors, there could be an easier solution: draft stoppers, or draft excluders. These fit against the bottom of the door, sealing the gap between it and the threshold. The advantage with these is that you can put them down in front of the drafty spot and then simply pick them up again when it's no longer freezing outside. There are simple ones with synthetic fill and more creative kinds too. And of course they work for windows sills as well as doors.

Flickr/Ama

5. Don't set your thermostat above 70°F

When it's glacially cold outside, we all feel the temptation to crank up the thermostat. But it doesn't just get wildly expensive, it's also unnecessary because it actually overheats the space. If you keep your thermostat at 68° for eight hours a day, it'll build up a very comfy-cozy warmth, but won't overheat and dry everything out — and will save you a good 15% on your heating bill.

6. Insulate electric wall sockets

Without sockets you can't run much of a household, but did you know that they leak heat like mad? With socket protectors you can seal the leak, and of course if you have babies around, you have to do this anyway. If the socket frame is loose or broken at all, it's a good idea to replace it as well.

Warning: Be extremely careful while adjusting or replacing any part of an electric socket. Turn the home's power off first or at least take out the fuse, and if you have any doubts, get an electrician to help.

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7. Leave the oven open after baking

It almost sounds too simple. But after the oven is turned off, it is still filled both with the heavenly aroma of baked goods and cozy heat, so just leave it open after baking and you'll get the advantage of both.

8. Cover your basement windows

Basement windows are sometimes thinner and less insulated than the windows in the rest of the house. With polystyrene foam panels that you can trim to size, you can seal up those windows so the heat stays in and the cold stays out.

9. Open blinds to let daylight in

Sunlight has always been and will always be the most economical form of heating. Even though there's less sun in the winter (and much too much less if you live way far north), you can "keep the door open" to what meager rays the sun still shares with us in the dark months. Open blinds and pull back curtains as soon as the sun comes up and the indoor temperature will benefit accordingly.

10. Get your fireplace and chimney cleaned

If you have a fireplace, you should always get it professionally cleaned before the winter begins so that it can operate as efficiently as possibly once the cold weather sets in.

Flickr/OldhouseintheBlueRidge

11. Turn on ceiling fans

Yes, you read that right.

But ceiling fans are to keep rooms cool in the summer, right? Well they can help warm them in the winter too. Turn the fan on several times, each time for a few minutes on low, turning counter-clockwise. That way hot air that's risen to the ceiling will get pushed back down to where it's most needed!

Flickr/jethro my

Isn't it amazing how much you can do to keep heating costs down, without having to wear six extra sweaters or wrap yourself in an actual sheep? Try these tips for the chilly months, and you'll be laughing in Jack Frost's face — and when you get your next heating bill too.

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