As the winter season approaches (although for some it already has!), we would like to pass on tips to winterize your home. With these tips, hopefully you’ll save energy without spending too much money.
Before the cold and snow come, take the time to check your home from top to bottom. Start by inspecting your roof, check for signs of leaks around the skylights or vents, chimneys and have your chimney cleaned once a year. Clear out your gutters and check for leaks there, too. Seal any drafty windows and doors and make sure to caulk or repair any gaps around windows, doors, trim and vents. By doing a top-to-bottom check in the fall, you can avoid expensive surprises this winter.
- Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F). This can help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Pre-slit pipe foam is available at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is often R-3.
- Wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house. Cold water pipes can be insulated to help prevent them from freezing during the winter.
- If you have a lot of outside doors that leak air, you can seal a few off using plastic, weather stripping or caulk putty. Using a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45% and also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home.
- Check windows for leaks. If your windows are old or inefficient, you may want to replace as windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your home.
- Caulk both sides of the trim around your windows. This is an area where a lot of air can get in.
- If there are any drafts coming in under your doors, consider using a rubber strip to seal them off, or place a rolled bath towel under your drafty door. According to the US Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use.
- Keep all closet doors closed when possible. There’s no need to heat space that isn’t in use as long as it doesn’t contain water pipes.
- Your heating equipment may need periodic tune-ups in order to run their best.
- Consider “blanketing” your water heater with faced fiberglass insulation. (Do not do this if you have a gas-powered water heater). Also, by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees (or lower), this can reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%.
- Replace your furnace filter about every 3 months. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand.
- Make sure your cold air returns aren’t blocked. Your furnace needs these to operate efficiently.
- Use a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs at night or when no one is at home. For every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill. By using a programmable thermostat you can save on average $180 a year.
- Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean.
- Remove any window-unit air conditioners and store them so you don’t invite cold drafts all winter.
- Make sure that your duct system is working properly. Studies show 10% to 30% of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from ducts.
- If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
- If the damper is old or doesn’t close well, try putting some insulation in it to seal it off. Just remember to take it out before using it!
- If you enjoy using your fireplace, consider getting an insert that will direct the heat into your home instead of just sending it up the chimney.
- Be sure to keep the area around the hearth clear of furniture, curtains and carpet, just in case a hot spark should jump out of your fireplace.
- Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to push hot air downward and delay it from escaping the house. Many ceiling fans come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. By doing this, it will help redirect warm air from the ceiling down the walls and into the living space – cutting your heating costs as much as 10%.
- Install a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from traveling back into your home.
- Consider using space heaters to heat large areas of your home. These work best in walled-in rooms where the heat can be contained.
- Replace worn or missing shingles.
- Seal any cracks in the foundation of your home.
- Close off rooms that aren’t used and shut the vents.
- Use the oven for baking during colder hours of the day to help heat your home.
- Wear socks and slippers. If your feet are warm, you will feel warmer and can keep the thermostat set low.
We hope these tips have been helpful and will keep you warm and comfortable this winter!