Winterizing Blog #4: Winterizing Your Home
In previous blogs I have covered winterizing your outdoor space, your vehicles, and caring for outdoor pets. This blog is winterizing your home. This is your checklist to make sure the heat is ready and your home is energy efficient and free from air leaks, which can raise your electric and gas bills.
- Check your heating system– By now most homes have already used their heat. If you have not, it is time to turn it on and make sure the heat is working properly. Trust me – the last thing you need on the first cold spell of the season is to turn on the heat and realize hours later the house is getting colder. Calling in a HVAC team to have it serviced expedited is not cheap – we found this out a little too late last winter. It was a very cold weekend the temps inside were dropping fast. The HVAC service technician came to our rescue, but charged us extra for it being a weekend, extra for it being night time, extra because he had to drive almost an hour, and extra because we said we needed immediate service. That one visit was over $1300 (and that did not include parts or the return trip to do repairs!) Ouch!
- Seasonal maintenance should be done either by yourself or a service technician at the change of each season – before changing from heat to cooling and vice versa.
- Remove window air conditioners and storage them for the winter.
- Reverse ceiling fans. Clockwise rotation circulates the warm air near the ceiling. (This small step, alone, can cut your heating costs by 10%.)
Check fireplace and chimney for obstructions (nests, leaves, branches). Check joints and flue. Check bricks to make sure nothing is out of place.
Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Plumbing – check insulation on any exposed piping outside of the house. Turn off exterior faucets and disconnect hoses. If you will be leaving the home for a few day or longer – shut off the water supply to prevent a leak that could cause massive damage to your home while you are away.
- Check windows for air leaks. If you have a storm window system, install the storm windows. Seal any leaks with caulk. Air leaks in windows and doors can cause your home to use more heating (5%-30% more, according to the US Dept. of Energy). If air is leaking in places you cannot caulk, use window plastic (clear) to cover your windows during the winter to keep drafts out.
- Check doors for air leaks and replace weatherstripping as needed.
- Make sure gutters are free of leaves and debris to prevent icicles from damaging gutters. Check attic space for any roof leaks. Replace/repair any roofing. Also, while in the attic check the duct system to make sure they are properly sealed.
- Be sure water heater is set to 120 degrees to save 6%-10% in your water heating costs. (140 degrees is the most common setting.)
- The controversial Thermostat Setting! I suggest setting your thermostat at a temperature that is comfortable for your family. Although the higher you set the thermostat, the more energy you are going to use and the more you will pay. Some people lower their thermostats to 65 degrees in the winter. I am a naturally cold person, so that would never work for me. My comfort level is about 71 degrees, and I am still constantly wearing a fleece jacket or sweater at that temperature. Other ways to save energy, you can lower the thermostat while you are away at work and at night. Also consider upgrading your thermostat to a new one that senses your activity, learns your daily patterns, and can monitor your use of energy from day to day, month to month, year to year. Some newest ones even record the temperature outside to help you connect why more energy was used and how much was used on a certain day over another . We use the Nest®. The installation of the Nest® and a good maintenance/repair check of the system has cut our electric bill in almost half over the last year. The savings has more than paid for the purchase and installation of the Nest®.
Thanks for reading! Please check out the other “Winterizing Blogs”!
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