published Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Consumer Watch: Low-cost insulation answers

by Ellen Phillips

How do I insulate better in this winter weather? I can't afford to spend much money on outside help.

— Harry Homeowner

Dear Mr. Homeowner: Good news! You don't have to seek outsiders, except for a couple; Reader's Digest has some great, cheap ways to freeze out the frost

• Attic -- Be sure at least a foot of insulation lines the attic to keep heat from zooming out through the roof.

• Basement -- Clean your furnace filters monthly during the heating season; this ensures increased airflow. Additionally, think about switching to a permanent filter; this will trap approximately 88 percent of any debris.

• Ceiling -- Reverse the direction of all ceiling fans which will push warm air down.

• Doors -- Don't worry about buying that cutesy animal form for under-door drafts. Just place a rolled-up towel under a drafty door, especially in out-of-guest-sight rooms. According to the Department of Energy, if you can decrease drafts, you can also decrease energy usage by 5-30 percent.

• Garage -- (This tip is more for our readers in the mountainous regions.) Mount snow tires on a spare set of used wheels. This gives you increased traction to help stop the car quicker if necessary.

• House -- Rearrange the furniture to avoid blocking heating vents. Open drapes on sunny days to let in warmth (assuming your windows aren't drafty).

• Internet -- Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at for potential deals that offer energy-saving incentives.

Tax Tip: If looking to move to more retiree-friendly states, check out's retiree tax map. ( A state-by-state guide to help determine the most tax-friendly states for you, it also helps you decide on the best place to live for your assets.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer watch@timesfree

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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