Winning Winter Home Projects

DIY on a Dime

written by matthew brady

If you don’t have the time or budget to make large-scale renovations at the moment or are just looking for opportunities to refresh your home, winter can be an ideal time to tackle minor updates to your house. With a little creativity and patience, these easy and affordable projects will give your living space added style and comfort.


  • Replace outdated hardware. Swapping out weathered or dated hardware can make a surprisingly big impact at little cost. Simply remove the cabinet doors and existing hardware (handles, pulls, and even hinges), and replace them with brand-new hardware of your liking. This simple change can transform your kitchen while keeping your budget intact.
    Estimated cost (per piece): $1–$6 (higher-end fixtures can cost more)

  • Swap out light switch faceplates. Light switch faceplates are often overlooked. Although they’re functional, swapping them out for decorative faceplates (even ones with night lights) can add a stylish finishing touch to your home. With only a screwdriver, you can upgrade your light switches in a few simple steps.
    Estimated cost (per single-switch plate): $1–$10

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  • Block your windows. Up to 30 percent of energy loss comes from leaky windows. If you have older ones, there’s a good chance that heat is escaping through the panes. However, replacing your windows might be a project for spring. For a temporary fix, buy a window insulation kit, through which you shrink wrap another layer of insulation right onto your windows. This project usually only requires a hair dryer and tape—and it can make quite a difference to your comfort levels and utility bill.
    Estimated cost (per kit): $8–$18

  • Caulk your frames. Caulking is another easy way to improve comfort and save money—and not just with windows. Simply feel around any frames—windows, doors, and attic openings—for a cold draft; if one exists or there are gaps between the frame and the wall, it’s time to get caulking. (Some caulks don’t work well in cold weather, though, so make sure to check the tube for temperature limits if you’re in a colder climate.) Also, remember to remove the old caulk before adding the new caulk.
    Estimated cost (per caulk tube): $3–$13

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  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat. This device can provide convenience and save you money in the long run—it’s energy-efficient, and some local utility companies also offer rebates for installing one. You can program the thermostat to set your temperature based on your schedule, and many are now smartphone compatible, so you can adjust even when you’re not home. An important note: if your home has a heat pump, make sure to purchase a programmable thermostat specifically made for heat pumps.
    Estimated cost (per device): $20–$200

Share these DIY projects to help friends and family beat the winter blues.

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