Sense & Centsibility Blog

Winter is Here, and Your Window is Open

This blog was updated December 7, 2021. Read the most recent version.

According to the Department of Energy, up to 20-40% of your energy costs are leaking out of your home. The energy you lose through drafty windows and doors alone has the same impact as having a two-foot by two-foot hole in the side of your home. That is like leaving a window open 24/7 all winter long.

Getting the most out of your energy can really save you money on your monthly heating bills.  You can have a professional home energy audit done.  You may be able to get the audit for free or low cost through your utility company. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer you can do some testing on your own. Here are some tests and tips to help you stop the leaking of energy and money.

Find the source of your problem

You can test for leaking windows and doors by holding lit incense around the windows and doors.  The smoke will tell you all you need to know about where the drafts are.  You can also do this with a lit candle by watching the flame, but be careful not to light the curtains on fire.

Once you have found your problem areas you can use some pretty inexpensive products to seal leaks around the seams of the windows and doors (inside and out).  There are lots of step by step instructions on, and on how to seal up your windows and doors.

If the leak is under the door, get creative! There are many patterns online for draft snakes. If you haven’t heard of them they are fabric tubes that lay at the bottom of the door to block cold air from coming in under the door. Some are even no-sew patterns. So you can make it your own or purchase them from most discount stores. Now that you your heat is staying in how can you use less of it?

Style and function

Your window treatments can really be helpful during the winter months. There are thermal curtains and curtain liners available almost everywhere curtains are sold. They help keep the warmth in and the cold out. Just remember to open them up on those sunny winter days to give your furnace a break.

Switch to reverse

Heat rises and you can push that warm air back down by simply flipping a switch on your ceiling fans. I had never heard of this and so when I checked ours and sure enough there was a switch for reverse. Once you make the switch run the fan on the lowest speed you want to move the air down slowly. You might notice almost immediately that your furnace isn’t turning on as much as it used to.

Maintain your furnace

Keeping your furnace tuned and clean will help to make sure that you are getting optimal performance from your heating unit. When a furnace has a clogged filter or dirt over connections, it can make your furnace work 30% harder to get the job done!

Also check the seams in your duct work to make sure that you aren’t losing some of that heat on its way to the rooms in your home.

Get with the program

We all know that turning down the thermostat while we are out of the home or at night can help to save energy, but it can be hard to remember to turn down the heat as we scramble out the door in the morning. A programmable thermostat can do the remembering for you. You can set it to turn down when you normally leave the home and at bedtime.  Then you can have it set for the morning when you get up so you can wake up to warm a home.

Be fashionably cozy

It’s winter, so dress for it. Layering up and wearing sweaters lets you turn down the heat in your home and still be comfortable. Turning down your heat by just one degree can reduce energy costs by as much as 3%.

Incentives state and federal

If you have are taking on some larger projects to make your home efficient make sure you do your homework.  There are federal and state incentives to making your home and appliances more efficient. Read more about them at

Who wouldn't want to save money on heating costs this winter? I would love if you tried out any or all of these tips. I know for a fact you will see a savings. Still have questions about saving money this winter? Give us a call at 877-577-2227, or visit our website to set up a free, confidential appointment. We can help you establish a budget that will help you prepare for unexpected winter expenses.

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Certified Financial Counselor for LSS Financial Counseling.