Money Matters: Winterizing your home

Education Resources, Finance 411,

This Thanksgiving weekend, broad swaths of the country, particularly the Northeast, are seeing record cold, reminding us it’s time to make sure our homes are winterized properly to keep our families snug and to save money on heating costs.

Consumer reporters can do their part by reminding audiences of the best ways to winterize, including ensuring doors and windows are properly insulated with weather stripping, taking advantage of sun to naturally heat the house, and closing vents in unused rooms.

There are higher tech options to explore, too, like using programmable or even smart thermostats to automatically lower heat settings at night and when no one is home. Completing the switch to LED bulbs can help, too, as can “smart” power strips which save electricity when appliances aren’t being used (and could be a good Black Friday buy).

Look into lesser-known low tech ways to save energy, and money too, like these:

  • Keep seating by interior walls to avoid drafts.
  • Adjust ceiling fan settings to draw warm air down.
  • Use a humidifier. Dry air holds less heat.
  • Don’t let bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans run too long, as they suck out heat.
  • Use dryer balls to shorten the time it takes to dry clothing.

Consumer reporters can also help audiences budget for this winter’s fuel costs. There are many home heating calculators available online, like this one. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) also publishes residential heating fuel costs and predictions every year. Find the most updated information here to help compare fuel costs in your area. And check with your local utility companies to see if they use dual time rates, which could make using appliances lest costly at certain times of the day.

For consumer reporters in some climate zones, audiences may also be looking for resources on winterizing pools and boats. Visiting a local pool supply company or marina to see winterizing in action and get tips to share could make a good consumer-focused package.

And what about those cozy fireplaces? Are they a good way to enjoy the holidays and be able to turn the thermostat down a few degrees, or inefficient heat hogs

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education