How to winterize your home on a budget

Oct 24, 2023, 3:33 PM

(Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)...

(Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — With Utah’s first freeze likely to be in October, the window for weatherproofing is almost closed. The procrastinators are sweating now…but might be freezing later!

Matthew Johnson, KSL TV’s meteorologist predicted that the first Utah freeze is estimated to be somewhere around Oct. 28 in 2023.

First things first, winterization is something that generally costs money now but saves money later.  With the deadline quickly approaching, we’ve prepared a list of tips for last-minute energy savers that won’t break the bank.

Do the outside rounds

(Photo by Andrew Theodorakis, Getty Images)

The main to-dos outside your home will cost nothing but blood, sweat, and tears. The outside laundry list includes cleaning the gutters, pruning trees and bushes, and removing garden hoses. Be sure that all the water from the spout leaks out of the pipe by turning off the water supply via the shutoff valve. Then, cover the outdoor spouts with cloth, or garbage bags and duct tape to prevent water and snow from climbing back up in there.

You’ll also want to clean the outdoor deck if you have one, especially if there’s a crawl space underneath it. Clearing the crawl space out, and preparing the wood to be constantly wet will prevent mold and mildew build-up.

Lastly, harvesting the last of the garden crops, or considering gardening the following year so you can financially benefit from growing your own food kills two budget birds with one stone.


Matt Gephardt applies tape to plastic shrink wrap over a hundred-plus-year-old window. (KSL TV)

Matt Gephardt applies tape to plastic shrink wrap over a hundred-plus-year-old window. (KSL TV)

You don’t need to buy a whole insulation package to do this step properly, and you don’t even need to consult Amazon. Plastic wrap, old clothes, padded packaging, or bubble wrap can all be used to wrap windows, seal drafty door creases, and protect outdoor screens.

The survivalists on TV are using everything from tree needles to snow itself to insulate their shelters, so you can be creative with this step too. Though for you, it’s not cheating to just use caulk to seal up cracks or a door snake to prevent a draft from infiltrating.

Lastly, it’s recommended that if you have a chimney, to plug it. The cost of the energy lost through an unplugged chimney can be very high, so it’s important to find a plug and do it safely. The good news is, it’s possible to make one of these with household items. Using garbage bags, bubble wrap, or cloth. Just remember to remove the plug before you light a fire!

Ceiling fans are for winter too

Ceiling fans can be run in the winter, but should only be done clockwise and at the lowest speed. It creates a draft that pulls the cool air up toward the ceiling, causing the warm air trapped at the top to circulate. This is especially important for high ceilings. Using this method to circulate heat will help bring down the cost of heating bills.

Typically there should be a switch at the base of the fan that changes the direction.

Ask for help

Utah Workforce Services has a Weather Assistance Program, which helps low-income families save energy and prepare for the winter. UWS has an additional program called Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT), which helps families with their utility bills year-round and can be utilized any time of the year.

Whether it be consulting family members or asking a neighbor, asking for help is one of the best possible things to do.

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How to winterize your home on a budget