After a summer of extreme temperatures, it’s a safe bet that this winter will be a wild ride as well; is your home ready? A few hours winterizing your home can save you chilly nights, keep your heating system running smoothly and efficiently, and save you a bundle in energy costs.
- Quite a bit of warm air sneaks out through your attic. Go to http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=diy.diy_attic_insulation to find out if you have enough. Attic insulation can be a do-it-yourself project or can be handled by a professional. Read Energy Star’s guide to decide if it’s a job you’d rather tackle or pay someone else to take care of.
- Weather stripping is a great line of defense against sneaky blowing air around your doors. Check the rubber gasket on the threshold of every door; if any are worn or have tears, replace them. Look for light coming in around the sides of the doors. If you can see light, pick up some self-adhesive foam rubber weather stripping at a home improvement store. It takes only a minute or two to install and can make a huge difference this winter.
- Check every window in the house for cracked caulk and feel for air coming in using either your hand or a match. Just one window that lets in air can be the equivalent of leaving your front door open on a cold day. Replace the window’s caulk, apply weather stripping, or opt to cover the entire window with weatherproofing plastic. All are available at any home improvement store and are easy to install.
- Have your heating system serviced. A tune-up will ensure you’re not going to have to worry about being warm on those nights with the temperature is below freezing. Tune-ups increase your system’s energy efficiency and a technician can alert you of any issues you need to be aware of, such as a part that may need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
- Air filters help keep your indoor air clean when it’s too cold to bring in fresh air through a window. Change them monthly. Keeping a clean filter in your system will also keep it from working too hard to push air through a dirty filter.
- If you don’t have one, install a programmable thermostat; if you do, use it. Give your furnace a break when you’re sleeping or not home. It will return the favor by keeping your utility bills down.
- Check your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide (CO) detector to ensure they’re running properly and change all the batteries. These 10 minutes can save your family’s lives.
- If you have a fireplace, have it inspected. You don’t necessarily need to have it swept every year, but it should be inspected annually.
- If you have any plumbing along an exterior wall, such as the pipes leading to a kitchen sink, insulate them against freezing and possibly bursting using pipe wrap, which takes only a few minutes to install.
- All exterior faucets and hose bibs should be drained and then insulated with a foam cover, which is available at any major retailer.
- Keep your water heater snuggly warm, and therefore the water inside it, by installing a water heater blanket.
A few hours’ work can keep your heating system running with optimal efficiency to save you money, eliminate drafts, and keep your family toasty warm all winter.