Seal and Insulate the Attic
The first trick to keeping energy bills from going through the roof is to keep warm air from going through the roof. More specifically, the trick is to seal and insulate the leaky attic floor. Take a peek into the attic. Is the floor covered with insulation? If you can still see the rafters, you could benefit from adding another layer. Before you do though, lift up sections of insulation and look for leaks. Black, dusty residue on the insulation is a common sign. Seal these leaks with expanding spray foam. Then add insulation to further reduce heat transfer into the attic.
Dodge the Drafts
Drafty windows and doors contribute to huge amounts of energy waste. Seal cracks around windows and door frames with caulk. Then replace worn out weatherstripping on doorjambs. Check the door sweeps on exterior doors. Do they create a tight seal when the doors are shut, or do they allow drafts in? A new door sweep is the answer to a drafty threshold.
Install Storm Windows or Plastic
Windows are some of the leakiest spots in your house because glass is a poor insulator. To reduce heat transfer, cover the glass with storm windows. It may be a pain to lug them out of the shed again this year, but the effort increases your windows' insulating capabilities by 45%. If you don't already have storm windows and want a cheaper alternative, you can always put up window plastic. When installed correctly, it's nearly invisible and provides an affordable added buffer against chilly outdoor air.
Winterize Your Water Lines
You don't need to water your lawn in the winter, so take the time before the first freeze to blow out the sprinkler system. Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses and turn off all exterior water spigots. Make sure you don't have any excess water pooled around your air conditioner. If the A/C has a water shutoff valve, turn that off as well.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes can burst and become one of the most expensive home disasters you have ever dealt with. Take a simple preventive step and insulate exposed stretches of pipe that come in contact with cold air. The basement, crawlspace, and exterior walls are all places you should look for exposed pipe. Slip on pre-slit pipe foam to provide the insulation your pipes need to prevent freezing. This winterizing tip also helps reduce water heating costs by helping the water reach its target temperature at the tap faster than uninsulated pipes.
Seal the Ductwork
Fall is a prime time of year to seal the ducts and help heated air reach supply registers without leaking into unoccupied spaces. Since traditionally leaky ductwork wastes about 10 to 30 percent of the air blowing through it, it definitely pays to have a contractor come seal it up for you. As an added benefit, you can expect cleaner indoor air since sealed ductwork can't pick up fumes or dust particles from the attic, garage or crawlspace and carry them to your indoor air. You might be tempted to skip these tips for winterizing your home, but the effort is well worth it. You'll feel grateful when the wind starts howling and you're sitting pretty in your cozy, winterized home.