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6 Simple Steps to Saving Money on Energy Bills — the Obama Way

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Since 2008, President Obama has been promising green jobs and homeowner savings through weatherization. Despite the money spent on the program, not much has been accomplished in terms of real dollars-and-cents gains for residents.

However, you don’t have to wait on the government to stop by to save energy this winter. For as little as $20, you can prevent one-third of your home’s energy loss, saving you money and keeping you a bit cozier.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Cheap

Weather stripping costs vary depending on the type of weather stripping you buy. Fortunately, the cheapest kinds are the easiest to install. And even the most basic on installation can save you 20% on your annual heating and cooling bills, according to the Department of Energy and the EPA.

2. Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

The most bang for your buck can be had with caulking cord or foam weather stripping, which has an adhesive backing. Both are inexpensive and work best in low-traffic areas, such as windows. For doors, which will see more opening and shutting, choose a more durable insulator like vinyl or metal. These materials will have to be nailed on, so if that doesn’t sound like a DIY project you can handle, go with the adhesive-backed foam or caulking cord and just realize that you will have to follow up with more every few years.

3. Test Your Doors and Windows

Once you choose the material, determine the best places to use seal by testing your doors and windows. For doors, if you can see light shining through the hinges or door jam, you should weather strip. The amount of air that can seep through a mere 1/4-inch gap is equivalent to having a 3-inch hole in your door. So, plug it up.

Next, check your windows. Sprinkle some water onto your hand and then feel around the window frames. The water makes it easier to detect drafts that seep through.

4. Measure It Up

Once you’ve determined where your leaks are, measure to see how much window stripping you’ll need. Add 5% to 10% more than your total to give you a margin of error. Avoid buying top-of-the-line weather stripping as the payoff will not be much different than if you used the more affordable kind.

5. Time It Right

Once you’re ready to apply, make sure the conditions are right. Fall is the best time to weatherize since it still feels good to throw open the windows. Also, weather stripping won’t adhere well in temperatures lower than 20 degrees. Once you have a good day, use some soapy water to clean the areas you’re going to apply the stripping. This will help the stripping to secure better.

6. Let the Weather Stripping Begin!

Next, apply the weather stripping to the window sashes and jambs. And, if you’re really not sure which are your sashes and which are your jambs, watch this YouTube video that easily demonstrates the process. This kind of weather stripping is great for all climates, as it will help keep your home warm in the winter and will also keep valuable air-conditioned air from escaping in the summer.

However, if you want a quick fix for wintry climates, use caulking cord and just press it into the edges of your window, stopping up any drafts.

Now, when the temperature begins to plunge and snow begins to fall, you’ll feel content–not only because your warm without wearing 12 layers of flannel but because you’re feeling wonderfully cozy — and not paying an arm and a leg for it.

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