Winterizing Your Home
Since summer is over, now is the time to winterize. In fact, whatever the season, it pays to take steps to make your home as energy efficient as possible. The following tips can help subdue the lion of winter energy costs and make your home safer too:
Check for leaks
-Make sure doors and windows are properly sealed. If windows leak and replacement is out of the question, consider installing inexpensive heavy-duty, clear plastic to provide temporary relief from bitter wind and cold.
-Weather stripping can also be applied around drafty doors. Inexpensive plastic, metal, or wooden draft stoppers can also be screwed or glued to the bottoms of doors.
-Another way that air escapes is through electric wall plugs and switch plates. If air is escaping, purchase simple-to-install pre-cut foam gaskets that fit behind the switch plate.
-Close the damper on your fireplace when not in use.
-Examine your home’s heating duct system for leaks. The Department of Energy estimates that gaps, cracks, and disconnections in a home’s duct system can cost 25-40% in heating and air conditioning costs.
-Close crawlspace vents. If your home has a crawlspace, make sure vents to it are closed during the summer and winter and left open in spring and fall.
Check your heating and air conditioning systems
-Perform regular maintenance inspections on heating and a/c units. It’s more cost effective to maintain than it is to repair. Professional service should include cleaning, checking, and lubricating the system.
-Replace your heater’s air filter monthly. If the filter is clean, the system will have to work less.
-If your heating system is old, consider updating it. Modern gas furnaces achieve energy efficiency ratings of 97%. If your system was installed prior to 1977, your unit is probably only 50-60% energy efficient.
-Adjust your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are away or sleeping. Or consider using a programmable thermostat to do it for you.
-In winter, reverse the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward, toward the ceiling. This will circulate the air without creating a breeze that can be chilling.
-Ensure that the thermostat and pilot lights work properly. Purchase a kerosene heater in case of emergency or consider a generator if you live in an area where the power goes out regularly.
-Insulate your attic. In an older home, this is the most efficient way to reduce home heating costs.
-Trim trees and remove dead branches to prevent weather-related accidents. Clean your gutters and check your chimney.
-Keep snow and ice from accumulating around your garage door. This will allow it to close securely and keep it from warping.
-Make sure steps and handrails are in good condition. Broken stairs and banisters become dangerous when covered with ice or snow.
Doing all these things in the fall can help prevent high energy costs or even costly repairs through the winter and into the spring. Remember, if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell real estate or just has questions, I am here to help.