It may seem like a lot of work, but increasing the efficiency of your home for winter is really pretty simple. There are three inexpensive and simple things you can do to reduce the energy you use during the cold months: caulk and seal windows, install draft-stoppers and/or weatherstripping to exterior doors, and adjust window blinds to let sunlight in during the day.
To seal up windows, just buy some weatherproof caulk and apply it to the exterior of the house as needed. Over time, homes may shift and expose cracks and gaps that let in cold air. Ask an expert at your local hardware store which caulk is best for your specific situation (there are tons to choose from!). If you live in an old house like me, you may also want to apply plastic to the interior portion of your windows. This will block the remaining cold air that has made it past your efforts on the exterior of the home. To install the plastic, you will need enough plastic to cover the entire window and some high-quality two sided tape. After the windows are covered, they will look something like this:
These two steps will make a huge difference in your comfort level and your heating bill.
Your local hardware store will also have convenient draft-stoppers and self-adhesive weatherstripping to use for your exterior doors. Much like the windows mentioned above, doors often shift or warp over time and need some extra attention to ensure their efficiency. You may be able to fix the problems with caulk on the exterior, but more than likely you will need either weather stripping or some type of draft-stopper. Check out this selection of handmade draft-stoppers at Etsy. Weatherstripping comes in various sizes, and can be tucked in just about any nook or cranny. It is especially helpful for situations when your door does not seal tightly against the stop molding. All you need to do is peel off the backing and apply to the troubled area.
Perhaps the simplest way to reduce your heating bill is to open up the blinds and let the sun shine in. Even if it is bitter cold outside, a tremendous amount of heat can be captured from a little bit of sunshine. Most sunlight will enter your home from south-facing windows. If possible, utilize these windows each day to allow natural heat inside your home. Why pay for heat that has been manufactured when you can get it for free?!
Keep in mind that you may need a few tools to do the job. Plan on having a utility knife, caulk gun, ladder, and tape measure to complete the task.
These are just a few simple and inexpensive ideas, but the possibilities are endless. If you live in the Indianapolis area, you may want to check websites like Citizens Gas or Indiana Living Green for other great tips on how to make your home more energy efficient for the winter months. Also Check out Heating and Cooling Avon IN for all of your insulation needs.