Increasing the insulation in your home can help reduce your power bills and save you money. But having a professional come to install insulation may cost more than you can afford. If you are looking for ways to lower your energy costs that won’t break the bank, we’ve got you covered. We found 15 affordable DIY insulation ideas to help lower your energy bills.
Table of Contents
- 1. Make a Door Snake
- 2. Caulk Your Vents
- 3. Hang Up Heavy Curtains
- 4. Apply Window Film
- 5. Add Weather Stripping To Your Doors and Windows
- 6. Insulate Your Patio Doors
- 7. Wrap Up Your Water Pipes
- 8. Get Your Water Heater A Blanket
- 9. Close Up the Fireplace
- 10. Insulate Your Attic Stairs
- 11. Insulate Your Attic
- 12. Insulate Your Garage
- 13. Make Your Own Cellulose Insulation
- 14. Make Your Own Denim Insulation
- 15. Add Shade to Your Home
- Final Thoughts
1. Make a Door Snake
A door snake is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to insulate your home better. By sealing off the crack beneath your door, you stop cold air from seeping in during the winter. All you have to do is place the door snake on the ground, and you’re done.
You can buy door snakes, but where is the fun in that? You can make your own with materials you probably already have on hand. All you need is some fabric (recycled old clothes will be fine) and some dry beans or rice. So here’s how you do it.
Find a piece of fabric or old clothing you can recycle. You want to find something you can cut a rectangular piece of fabric from that is about 35 inches long and 8 inches wide. Once you have your rectangle, sew the fabric down one side to make a tube. Then sew one end closed. Turn your tube inside out, so the seams are now inside. (If your upcycled clothing has a sleeve or pants leg in the right dimensions, you can eliminate most of the cutting and sewing!)
Next, you will fill the tube with either dried beans or rice, whichever you have on hand. Once your tube is full, you can sew the remaining side closed. And, voila! Now you have a door snake to help keep out drafts.
2. Caulk Your Vents
You probably think your house is sealed off from the outside. But that may not be the case. There are lots of little places where air can leak, causing your energy bill to rise. One common place is around the vents in your laundry room and your bathroom.
Go outside your house and take a look. You should be able to see if the gap where your vents exit is sealed or not. If it isn’t, don’t worry. It is an easy fix. Just take a trip down to your local hardware store and buy some silicone caulk. When you get back home, seal up all those drafts and start saving money.
3. Hang Up Heavy Curtains
We lose a lot of heat out of our windows, especially if you have older, less energy-efficient windows in your home. However, if you can’t afford to upgrade to more energy-efficient windows yet, don’t despair. There are other ways you can insulate those windows to save on your energy bill.
One stylish way to keep your valuable heat in your home is to hang heavy curtains in your windows. The fabric will help block the heat transfer between the inside and outside, just like extra window panes do. You will want to open your curtains on sunny days to let the light in, since the sunlight can help warm up your home with free solar energy.
Curtains aren’t just for keeping warm in winter. They can equally help block the sun and keep your rooms cooler in summer as well.
4. Apply Window Film
If curtains aren’t your thing, window film is another option that can help you better insulate your windows. You wouldn’t think that a thin film of plastic could make a significant difference, but it does. Window film is a great addition to old single-pane windows or even double-pane windows.
All you do to apply the window film is simply stick it to your window. How easy is that? Once you apply your film, you are adding an additional layer of insulation–essentially taking a single-pane window and making double-paned, but all at a lesser cost than actually installing new windows.
Like curtains, window film works in both summer and winter to help lower energy costs. But since it comes in a variety of opacities, you can decide how much light you want to let in.
5. Add Weather Stripping To Your Doors and Windows
Both windows and doors can be made more efficient by adding weather stripping. Easily obtained at your local hardware store, there are many types of weatherstripping available. The U.S. Department of Energy’s website refers to fourteen different kinds of weatherstripping.
There are a number of factors that affect which type of weatherstripping will be best for your home. It will depend on what you are sealing, how frequently it is used–heck, even style can be a factor.
But once you have decided on the best material, the installation itself is pretty easy. Many materials you simply cut to length and then peel and stick. Just remember to always measure twice, cut once!
6. Insulate Your Patio Doors
Patios are often seasonal spaces. If you have a door to a patio you don’t use in winter, then you can seal up that door to help save on your heating costs. Now I’m not suggesting you do anything drastic like board up your door. All you need to do is buy some rigid foam board.
Rigid foam board is a light, insulative material that you can find at the hardware store. It comes in a variety of thicknesses depending on how much insulation you want. Once you have your board, you can place it in your patio doorway. This will help keep the heat from seeping out your door.
If rigid foam board isn’t your thing, you can also swap out a patio screen door for a storm door. The glass helps insulate the doorway better than the mesh screening does.
7. Wrap Up Your Water Pipes
When you think of adding insulation, you may think of your attic or your cellar, but you don’t often think of insulating your water pipes. But adding insulation around your hot water pipes is a great way to help save on energy costs. Pipe insulation helps keep you from losing the heat from your hot water into the surrounding cold air. By keeping your hot water warmer, you use less energy and save money.
There are several types of pipe insulation available, depending on how long the pipes are that you want to insulate. Pipe sleeves are great for longer applications. They come in lengths up to six feet. Simply wrap the foam or rubber tube around your hot water pipes and seal it with self-sealing adhesive.
For shorter lengths of piping, you have more choices. You can choose from flexible foam with rubber backing, cotton with foil backing, bubble film, and more. These types of pipe insulation are equally as easy to install as the pipes sleeves are.
8. Get Your Water Heater A Blanket
Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water accounts for up to 18 percent of your home’s energy costs? So, while you are insulating your hot water lines, you might as well go ahead and insulate your hot water heater as well. Because, really, you want to get the most savings on your heating costs as possible.
It’s really easy to insulate your water heater. All you need is a blanket. No, silly. Not a blanket off your bed–a water heater blanket. Though the truth is, a water heater blanket works just like a blanket on the bed. It helps trap the heat in, so you spend less money keeping your water warm.
Just like blankets for your bed, water heater blankets come in a number of different materials. You can find them in everything from fiberglass to denim. They are also available with different R-factors. Details like where your water heater is located and your climate will help determine which blanket is best for your heater.
9. Close Up the Fireplace
We often think fireplaces will lower our energy costs. The truth is, that’s not usually the case. While burning a fire is quaint, it’s the most inefficient way to heat your home. Think about it–most of the heat is lost up your chimney.
And if you’re not keeping the fire going 24/7, you are still losing heat up that chimney. Flues don’t seal tightly, and masonry can be drafty. But don’t worry! You don’t need to brick up your fireplace to help keep the heat (and AC) in. There are several different methods you can use to insulate your fireplace better and save on energy costs.
The most affordable is a fireplace plug. These are inflatable polyurethane pillows or foam blocks that you can easily place in your chimney. This helps prevent airflow to the outside. They’re easy enough to insert and remove that you can still burn a fire on Christmas Eve and let Santa in. Then just put the plug back in the next day.
10. Insulate Your Attic Stairs
Attic stairs? You may be thinking, I don’t have attic stairs. But chances are, somewhere in your home is a hole in your ceiling that leads up to your attic. And chances are it’s not insulated and it’s drafty. However, that can change with an easy fix. All you need to do is install an attic stair cover box.
Again, the US Department of Energy is here to help you. They provide detailed plans for an attic stair cover you can build yourself. They estimate the project will take about 4 hours to complete. And it can cost you between $50- $150 in materials.
If you don’t feel up to building your own attic stair cover box, you can purchase one prebuilt and just install it.
11. Insulate Your Attic
While you are up there working on the attic stairs is a great time to see if your attic needs more insulation. As much as 85 percent of heat loss can happen through your attic, so it never hurts to add more insulation.
Fiberglass batts are an affordable, easy way to add insulation to your attic space. They don’t require any special machinery or knowledge to install, so you don’t need a professional. Just make sure you wear proper safety equipment to prevent irritation from the fibers.
12. Insulate Your Garage
Your attic isn’t the only place you can add insulation to get energy savings. If you spend a lot of time out in your garage, it may make sense to insulate that as well. Running a space heater to keep your garage workout room or workshop warm in winter could be costing you a lot more than it needs to.
Installing insulation in your garage walls will help keep the space warmer if you live in a cold climate, but it may not be such a great idea if you live someplace hot and humid. If you park your car in your garage you will find that insulation can actually trap the heat from your car, making the space warmer.
13. Make Your Own Cellulose Insulation
If you are a true DIY warrior, you could try and make your own insulation. Cellulose insulation is made up of finely shredded newspaper. With the right equipment, in theory, you can do it at home.
If you are interested in learning more about the process, Mother Earth News provides pretty detailed directions on how it’s done. They say all you need is newspaper, a farm-type hammermill, borax, and alum–all of which aren’t too difficult to find.
The idea is to shred the newspaper until it is a fine dust. If you can read the words on the page still, then your paper isn’t fine enough. Once you have your “cellulose,” you can pack it into your walls to insulate them.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for your entire home, but it might be an interesting DIY project for a small shed or other small space you want to insulate.
14. Make Your Own Denim Insulation
Newspaper isn’t the only material that you can recycle into insulation. Denim is another popular material to use. While you can buy denim insulation, it certainly isn’t the most affordable insulation on the market.
But you can DIY your own denim insulation. All you need are old jeans and a paper shredder. Just like with cellulose insulation, the goal is to turn your jeans into denim fluff. It’s best to cut up your jean into small strips and remove waistbands, pockets, and cuffs.
Once you have your denim strips, you can slowly feed them through a paper shredder. Like the newsprint, given enough time, you will have denim “fluff” that you can pack into your walls. Make sure you don’t pack the fluff too tightly. The air in the fluff will also help insulate your walls.
The process is pretty time-consuming and requires a lot of jeans. But it is a fun DIY project if you have a small space you want to insulate.
15. Add Shade to Your Home
If you live in a warm climate and are looking to save money in summer, consider adding shade to your home. This can be done by adding an awning to your windows and doors to block out the sun. The shade will help keep your home cooler and lower your energy bills.
However, if awnings aren’t your style, you can look into simply planting some trees for shade. Think of the shade from the trees as natural insulation from the heat of the sun. Not only will the trees help shade your home, but they can also help offset the effects of global climate change as well. By planting trees you can help offset carbon emissions which is essential if we want to halt rising global temperatures.
As you can see, there are many affordable DIY insulation ideas out there for your home. Take a look around your home for materials that can be recycled to help cut down your energy costs. And make a list of things you need from your hardware store. With just a little hard work, you can be on your way to lower energy bills. So start planning what you will do with all that savings.