It’s that time of year again! The leaves have fallen, the air is getting cold and you’ve begun digging around the house looking for those warm coats. Regular home maintenance is crucial to protecting the value of your home. Your home is likely your biggest investment so taking a little time and money for upkeep makes pure financial sense. If you are uncomfortable doing any of the following tasks, then contact a qualified company to help out.
1. Fall is the time to start winter-proofing your home. One of the best ways to save money on heating is to install a programmable digital thermostat. They are not difficult to install and are more efficient than older types of thermostats. They can be programmed to automatically lower temperature at certain times, such as during the day when everyone out and at night when everyone is asleep. Setting the temperature to decrease even by a degree or two can have a huge impact on your next heating bill. Our personal favorite thermostat is The Nest, very innovative and easy to use.
2. Next, get the ladder out and check the gutters and downspouts. They should be free from debris and be cleaned yearly. The weight of debris build up could cause them to pull away from the house or cause an ice build up that can damage your shingles. While you’re up there, have a peek at the roof and check for any missing or damaged shingles. If you see any trouble, be sure to contact a qualified roofing company.
3. Have a look at your air conditioner and seal any gaps in the tubing going to the inside. Take your hose and spray through the coils of the air conditioner to clean any debris away. Then you need to protect it from the winter with a store-bought cover.
4. A qualified company should service your furnace every two years for a gas furnace and every year for an oil furnace. Replacing your furnace filter every 6-8 weeks will help your furnace run more effectively and cut down on heating costs.
5. If you have a wood fireplace it is important to keep it maintained to avoid a chimney fire. Check the chimney for obstructions such as nests and have a chimney cleaning company come clean your chimney once a year if you burn wood fires regularly. Also remember to close the fireplace damper. Heat rises and your warm air will be sucked up through the chimney if you forget.
6. Inside the house you should start with vacuuming electric baseboard heaters and air vents to remove dust. Then you should walk through your home checking for cold air spots. Check exterior electrical outlets, switch plates, and areas around windows and doors. You can buy foam insulation for outlet and switch plates inexpensively; it is both easy to install and effective. Caulk drafty areas where weather stripping is not appropriate. Replacing old weather stripping around doors will help a great deal in stopping warm air from escaping.
7. Old windows can be very costly by letting tremendous amounts of heat escape. If your windows are old and you are feeling a draft from them, consider upgrading to energy efficient windows (with Low E & Argon Gas). If money is tight and window replacement is not possible, invest in a window insulation kit or weather-stripping. Finally, consider installing insulated curtains or shades to help keep the heat in.
8. Fans. I bet you weren’t aware of this one, but a high CFM bathroom fans can expel a houseful of warm air in just over an hour. Use your bathroom fans wisely and remember to turn them off. This applies to kitchen fans as well. If you have ceiling fans in your home, you should reverse their direction in the winter so that they are turning clockwise. This way, the fan will push warm air downwards and cause it to re-circulate making you warmer.
9. You can close off rooms that aren’t being used often and also close the air ducts in those rooms. If you can add French doors in your foyer it may be a good idea. Having people coming in and out of your home sucks out a lot of heat but by closing off the foyer you can drastically reduce the amount of heat lost.
10. Plant trees. Yes, not only do they clean the air but planting trees on your property can give your home a windbreak and save you in energy costs. Amazing aren’t they?
I hope you enjoyed this article on winter proofing your home.