How to winterize your home for maximum savings during the cold months

A man using a caulking gun.

By Ashley Adams

December 1, 2023

As the cold weather sets in, there are ways to save money on your heating costs with simple winterization tips every person can do.

Cold weather has hit Pennsylvania and along with a wintry chill comes high energy bills to heat your home in the winter months.

According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, during cold weather months, the cost of energy used — either electricity or natural gas — can account for more than half of a typical person’s bill. Starting Friday, all PUC-regulated electric utilities are raising their prices. In most areas of the state, you can choose who supplies your electricity, so shopping around wouldn’t hurt. The PUC’s energy shopping websites — PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com — are great resources to shop for an energy provider and potentially save a little money on your heating bills.

If you need assistance with your heating bills this winter, there is help available through the state. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally-funded program administered by the PA Department of Human Services that helps with home heating bills. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners. The LIHEAP application period for both cash and crisis grants runs from now to April 5, 2024.

“Keeping your home warm during the coldest and darkest months of the year is a necessity, not a luxury. Every Pennsylvanian deserves the dignity and peace of mind of knowing that their heat will not be shut off this winter and they can keep themselves and their families safe and warm,” said DHS Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh.

LIHEAP is distributed directly to your utility company or home heating fuel provider in the form of a grant, so you do not have to repay assistance. While last season’s LIHEAP benefits were supplemented by additional American Rescue Plan dollars, this season’s benefits will return to more traditional amounts. The minimum LIHEAP cash grant is $300, and the maximum cash grant is $1,000.

You can apply for LIHEAP online at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS.

Even if you don’t qualify for LIHEAP, there are things you can do to winterize your home and cut down on your heating costs. Here are a few simple tips to keep the warm air in and the cold air out:

Seal it up

It is hugely important that there are no air leaks in your home. Warm air will escape, costing you more to heat it. Fill any gaps or cracks in your home where air can escape. This will reduce how often your heater needs to warm up the place.

Use caulk or expandable foam — available at any big-box store for a few dollars — from your basement to your attic to seal up any spots where cold air could enter or warm air could exit, such as around windows and doors, holes around pipes and wire, and any other gaps you see.

To handle drafts under doorways, you can purchase a door draft stopper for as little as $10 from any big-box retailer.

Insulate

Heat rises, so most of your warm air is going to escape through the attic. Insulate it. Foam insulation is the most effective (and also most expensive) but the material used isn’t as important as the fact that some form of insulation is there and that the space is air sealed.

Keep it at 68

The ideal interior temperature during winter is 68 degrees, according to the Department of Energy, so keep your thermostat set around there.

If 68 degrees seems too cold, bundle up. It is winter so walking around your house in shorts and a T-shirt is going to cost you.

Get a window kit

Priced around $10, a window kit is used to put a layer of clear plastic over your windows to prevent cold-air drafts and to help keep the warm air in. Window kits can be found at any big-box retailer.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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