Close-up Of Thermostat And Piggy Bank With Eyeglasses On Radiator Against White Wall

Easy DIY Ways to Control The Cost to Heat Your Home This Winter

The headlines are sobering:

Who knows where this is going or just high expensive it will be to keep our homes warm during the coming cold months of winter?

Close-up Of Thermostat And Piggy Bank With Eyeglasses On Radiator Against White Wall

While there’s nothing we can do to reverse what’s going on in the global economy, there are measures we can take to make sure our homes are reasonably warm and cozy while at the same time keeping a lid on how much it is going to cost to cover heating costs.

It’s not too late for a few DIY projects to make sure expensive warmed air will not get sucked out into the cold outdoors!

Install a Programmable Thermostat

I’ve suggested this to you before, now I am pleading with you to get one of these amazingly simple pieces of technology.


Budget models start at around $20 and are easy to install yourself. Instructions come with the product. But make sure the lower-cost model you select will work with your type of heating system. Not all of them do.

If you are unsure, go to a home center like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Arrive knowing exactly which type of heating system you have that is operated with a thermostat. Ask questions. Then follow the instructions you receive there and are also included with the product to program it for the entire week—up to four settings a day—to meet your comfort needs. 



My pick for Best Inexpensive basic programmable thermostat, this Honeywell model, isn’t the cheapest, but it is compatible with central gas, oil, or electric furnaces and AC systems as well as low-voltage systems. It is exactly what you need if going with a basic model.

If you purchase it from Amazon, it comes with 90-days of free Amazon tech support. In the event your product doesn’t work as expected, or you’d like someone to walk you through set-up, Amazon technicians will help you troubleshoot any issues you are having. To access this option, go to Your Orders, select the thermostat you purchased, then choose “Get product support.”

Smart thermostat

A smart thermostat allows you to adjust your home’s heat from anywhere using any of your connected smart devices. You can be laying in bed and adjust the temperature without getting out of bed. Or you can turn the heat down when you go out of town, but turn it up with your phone when you are on your way home so it is warm when you arrive.



This Emerson Sensi model is my pick for Best Inexpensive smart thermostat because it offers flexible scheduling capabilities and will send extreme temperature alerts and usage reports directly to your phone through the app. This thermostat, like the budget-friendly choice, includes free Amazon tech support (see above)—and the price is right as of this writing.

Emerson Sensi is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google, Apple HomeKit, and Wink smart home platforms. It will look after your heating costs in ways you can only wish you were as efficient.

Replace Worn Weatherstripping

Open an outside door and look at that strip of foam rubber that runs across the top and down both sides of the door. Now check a window. You should see the same thing all the way around that window. It should be in tact, attached tightly leaving no space for air to leak out of the house when the window is closed.

The purpose of this “weather stripping” is to fill the air gap once that door and/or window is closed. Is it torn, shredded, missing, or otherwise not doing its job? You need to replace weather stripping wherever it is allowing drafts—big or small.

weatherstripping in a package

Weatherstripping, available at any home center or online here comes in varying widths with a sticky-back adhesive which makes it a cinch to install. Do it today before any more expensively warmed air (and getting more expensive every day!) gets sucked out through tiny openings around your exterior windows and doors. 

There are a number of excellent videos online that will walk you through the simple process of adding or replacing weather stripping. How to Weather Strip Doors and How to Install Window Weather Stripping should get you started.

Adjust Exterior Door Threshold

Get down on your hands and knees so you can take a look under your front door and any other outside doors. See any daylight? That’s where precious warmed air is being sucked out into the cold. You may be able to adjust the threshold to close this gap. Look for four or five screws that when loosened will allow you to adjust the threshold height. You may need to also replace the door’s “sweep.”

A close up of a device

A very helpful online video, How to Raise an Adjustable Entry Door Threshold, will show you exactly how to do this. Keep in mind that if the threshold cannot be adjusted sufficiently to completely close and seal that air gap, you may need to replace it. 


Electrical Outlets

Identify every electrical outlet box and switch plate on the exterior walls of your home. Take off the covers to see if the air gaps behind are all filled with insulation. Whoops. There goes more warmed air! 

socket sealers

A quick and inexpensive fix: Add a rubber sealer behind each outlet and switch cover on all of your home’s exterior walls. These ready-made rubber gaskets are easy to install and will help make your home airtight. You may be able to find these at your local home improvement center, or get them online.


Plug Holes, Gaps, and Cracks

While you were looking for outlets on exterior walls, did you see any holes? Also check under all of the sinks (kitchen, bathrooms). See where the pipes go through the wall? If those areas are not sealed fully, they too are sucking warmed air out of the house, and that’s costing you money. You can seal these holes, gaps, and cracks with expanding foam that comes in an aerosol can at the home center or online.


insulation foam


If you see a round metal plate called an “escutcheon ring” that is up against the wall where the pipe goes through, pull that back to fill the area with foam. That ring is only decorative and doesn’t make it airtight.





Plastic Film on Windows

Experts tell us that the surface of your windows accounts for 25 percent of the home’s heat loss. Simply covering the windows and patio doors with clear plastic film for this purpose can cut the loss significantly.


Window Insulator Kit



This heat-shrink transparent film is reasonably priced. It comes in sheets that you apply yourself using a regular hair dryer to “shrink” the film right to the window even if that window has a blind installed. If you follow the directions carefully (watch the video) the film will be nearly invisible, the blind still functional, and best of all—extremely effective! 



Close the Flue

If you have a typical wood-burning fireplace, that chimney space is a big, nasty energy thief whenever the fireplace is not in use. Get into the habit of closing the flue solidly between uses.


flue blocker

If you rarely use the fireplace, consider a chimney flue blocker. There are a number of styles and shapes, so you may need to shop around to find the right shape for your flue.



Sealing your home as tightly as possible has never been easier. It is the secret to cut heating costs while keeping warm. Do it now and you’ll get a big bonus come summer. It will cost less to keep the house cool, too.


Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.




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  1. Kay Jones says:

    I have an older home with the usual leaks. When living in England I noticed my neighbors heated only the rooms they were in and basically just took the chill off the rest. We wore more clothes inside to keep warm. I learned from them and now have the plastic on all the windows, heavier curtains, and have put curtain rods over the exterior doors and have taken the fluffy blankets and cut slits in the top to run the rods through. The curtains are pulled back to enter and exit but it was amazing what a difference that made. I also have a heated throw to use in my chair for reading and watching TV. My electric company also has a program where they follow your bills for a year and then divide that amount by 12 and you pay that same amount year round. Much easier to manage than low bills in the summer and high ones in the winter.


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