We’re entering autumn, which means winter is right around the corner. For many homeowners, this also means struggling to keep the house warm without having to pay exorbitant heating bills.
If you have the budget for it, upgrading your home to be more energy efficient—and stay warmer—is a good long-term investment strategy to save money (and make yourself more comfortable in the meantime). And autumn is the perfect time to make these upgrades, while the weather is still pleasant.
Let’s talk about the best way to go about this mission.
How to Improve Your Heat Retention
Most home improvements intended to help your house stay warm focus on the goal of retaining heat, so that means giving your home a more effective insulating capacity. Every forms of insulation is nothing more than a way to prevent or reduce air leaks; some address the active, obvious leaks that obviously exist (such as a hole in a wall or roof), and others diminish the air movement through solid surfaces (for example, thicker windows).
In any case, such upgrades vary substantially, so you’ll need to think hard before you start applying these to your home. Some of the most important factors to consider involve:<
- Cost. Upgrades can range from as low as a few dollars for a tube of caulk to tens of thousands for a major, construction-heavy overhaul to your residence. There are options for almost any budget, but you obviously need to focus on what you can readily afford.
- Intensiveness. Again, there’s a lot of variance here. Some projects you can tackle alone and complete within a few hours, but others may require several days of work that can best be done by a professional contractor.
- Energy savings. Different kinds of upgrades will give you different increases in energy efficiency. These will govern the long-term returns on your investment, and how warm your home stays over time during the winter.
- Added Value. Certain upgrades can increase the value of your home. You need to be aware of the potential increase and how it compares to your initial costs.
Main Types of Upgrades
With that in mind, what are the main ways you can upgrade your home to make it warmer in winter?
1. Replacing the windows. Replacing your windows is one of the best home upgrades you can make, especially if your windows are more than a decade old. Older windows are surrounded by gaps where air can leak out; they are generally made of thinner glass that provides weaker insulation. Replacing your windows may cost several thousand dollars up front, but they’ll add most of their cost in value to your home … and you’ll notice the difference in air quality and heating efficiency as soon as they’ve gone in.
2. Replacing the doors. If you’re looking to plug some air leaks and put more space between the interior and exterior of your home, but investing in windows poses too great a burden, doors are a good secondary option. Replace an older door with a newer, thicker, and more energy-efficient variety. This is a solid investment, both in terms of your increased home value and the amount of energy you’re likely to save over time.
3. Upgrading your siding. Siding is an interesting choice for development; going with a thicker, more durable form such as hardieplank siding will add a layer of insulation to your home, but there are other advantages to upgrading your siding. You’ll achieve a more durable exterior, which can withstand more levels and kinds of weathering damage, it will demand less maintenance and cleaning, and of course, your home value will go up significantly. Preparing your home for winter may be a great excuse finally to upgrade that old, deteriorating vinyl siding.
4. Finding and sealing cracks. In many cases, small holes and cracks in your home could be responsible for the majority of your heating loss. Usually, these can be found in your attic or basement, where construction is less polished and insulation more scarce. The good news is that these cracks are usually easy to find, even for an amateur—especially on a windy day! Simply feel around for any changes in the air temperature or movement. Eventually, you’ll find a crack or hole that needs plugging. You can use a simple caulking gun to do these fixes yourself.
5. Replacing your insulation. Like doors and windows, the technology for insulation has come a long way in recent decades. Insulation that was used a few decades ago pales in comparison to today’s versions. Though it’s an admittedly labor-intensive job, replacing your insulation could have a dramatic effect on your home’s heat retention.
6. Finishing the attic. Because most attics are unfinished, and are directly in contact with the outdoors, they’re frequently your home’s biggest source of heat loss. Finishing your attic can instantly improve your overall efficiency (and keep your home cooler in summer as well). This is is another labor-intensive job: You’ll have to put in new insulation and drywall. But once it’s finished, your home value could skyrocket.
7. Appliance upgrades. Though replacing your appliances may not technically count as a “home upgrade,” they can significantly improve your efficiency and increase your home value at the same time. Replacing your heater with a newer model could increase your efficiency many times over, and the same is true of replacing your water heater, or adding a programmable thermostat.
As you can see, even small, relatively inexpensive upgrades can have a significant impact on how well your home retains heat. You don’t have to do all of these upgrades, or all of them at once, but dedicating some extra time and money to even one major improvement can have a substantial effect on your utility costs (not to mention your home’s value).
If you’re interested in finding out how much a siding or window upgrade might cost you, don’t hesitate to contact Siding and Windows Group. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free quote and answer any questions you might have.