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Winter has made its presence quite clear this year. With temperatures well below zero in many regions of the country due to the polar vortex, it’s important to be sure your home is able to withstand the freezing weather. Residential electricity costs have risen 35 percent in the past decade, but you can use several DIY weatherization tips to help protect your family and your wallet from the cold.

Here are some of our top tips for weatherizing your home to boost energy efficiency and heat your abode on a budget:

• Seek out and block drafts to reduce heat loss
Replacing older drafty windows and doors is one of the easiest energy-efficient solutions during winter, but even newer windows and doors could use help keeping the cold out. Sealing frames with caulk and utilizing shrink-wrap or weather stripping can make a big impact in preventing heat loss and lowering energy consumption.

• Stop energy-sucking air leaks with insulation
In this especially cold period of winter, any air lost through lack of or improper insulation is costing money and heat. Approximately 25 percent of heat is lost through small crack in homes. This is easily fixed by installing sections of insulation between floor joists and in the attic, preventing excessive energy consumption due to air leaks. Always remember to wear a protective mask, glasses and gloves when handling insulation, especially fiberglass.

• Minimize heat loss in pipes and ducts
Warm air and hot water can be expensive commodities if pipes and ducts aren’t sealed. The situation is even worse during a deep freeze when pipes exposed to frigid air can burst, causing a huge amount of damage. There are a few DIY steps you can take to insulate pipes from the cold. First seal any air leaks with duct tape. Then, cut insulation batting to fit around the pipe or duct and secure with more duct tape. This fairly inexpensive update can have a huge impact on your utility bills throughout the winter.

• Install a smart thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature
Adjusting the temperature of rooms when you’re sleeping or at work is a very effective weatherization tactic to ensure your house is only using heat when necessary. This can save about $180 on average per year in energy costs. Have your heating system serviced at the beginning of each year to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible.

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