When fall rolls around, you probably hear the phrase “winterize your home” repeatedly on TV, the radio and in the newspaper. But have you ever wondered what exactly is involved in winterizing your home?
Fix Leaks Around Doors and Windows
Heat escapes from your house through leaks around doors and windows. As the weather turns colder, it pays to fix as many air leaks as you possibly can. Many of these fixes can be made by the average homeowner by caulking around windows and adding door sweeps to exterior doors.
Add Attic Insulation
Have you checked your attic insulation lately? Experts recommend a minimum depth of 12 inches of insulation. When you check your attic, if you can still see the ceiling joists, you should consider adding additional insulation.
Clean Your Furnace
Having your furnace cleaned is best way to make sure it’s burning efficiently once you turn it on. And be sure to change your filters on a regular basis—a clean filter helps your furnace operate more efficiently, minimizes dust and cuts down on the risk of fire.
Keep your gutters clean and replace them as needed. This will protect you against water-based problems down the road.
Replace Older Windows
Replacing old, drafty windows can save you money on heating and cooling bills. Although more costly than storm windows in the short term, insulated, double pane windows will most certainly save you money on heating costs over time.
As these break down, as they inevitably will, be sure to replace with energy efficient models. Even though these can be costly up front, you will notice savings right away on your energy bill.
Get Financing Help
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can help you finance any renovation or remodel projects. The advantages of using a HELOC include:
- Potential tax benefits: Home equity interest payments are generally tax deductible.*
- Lower monthly payments: Interest rates on HELOCs are typically lower than credit card or personal loan rates.
- Greater financial control: With a HELOC, you withdraw and pay interest on only what you need when you need it.
First decide how much you need by making an accurate estimate of what the project will cost. If you’re hiring a contractor, start with a firm bid and add 10% for surprises. If you’ll do the work yourself, list your materials, including quantities and costs, permit fees and equipment rental costs to get an accurate total. Add a cushion of 20% to 30% to be safe.
* Consult your tax advisor about the deductibility of interest.
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