15 Home Winterizing Tips That Will Save You Money All Year Long
By properly winterizing your home you can head off unexpected repairs and boost your home’s energy efficiency so you save money all year long. Here are just 15 home winterizing tips and tricks you can implement right away to not only save money, but be more comfortable in the coming months.
- Get a check-up for the furnace. Just like a tune-up for your car, a professional tune-up for your furnace ensures your heating system is up to the season ahead. A qualified technician will screen for carbon monoxide leaks, inspect the gas or oil line running to your furnace, and check the operation of the blower, motor, and fan. He’ll also check and replace air filters, which you shouod be doing all year long. If the filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder. In most homes, filters should be changed monthly in the heating season.
- Winterize the A/C. Prevent frozen air conditioning lines by draining hoses and drain pans and turning off water shutoff valves. Remove window A/C units to prevent drafts, and store them away for the winter.
- Seal heating system ducts. If your central heating ducts are leaky or poorly insulated, you could be losing heat before it reaches your vents. That’s a lot of heat — and dollars — leaking into the attic. Ducts also collect a prodigious amount of dust, mold and other gunk over time. Smart strategy: Get the HVAC specialist who inspects your furnace to go over your ductwork, too.
- Insulate the attic. While you’re poking around in the attic, don’t forget to insulate. If your attic doesn’t have at least 12 inches of insulation, you’ve got some upgrades ahead. Caution: Don’t install insulation with a paper backing on top of other insulation, or you’ll risk trapping moisture and growing mold.
- Seal off drafts. The attic’s not the only spot you may be losing heat in all the wrong places. Drafts literally blow 5 to 30 percent of your heat (and your heating budget, too) through the unsealed cracks and crevices of your home. Check for drafts by holding a lit stick of incense near windows and doors on a windy day, and watch for wavers in the smoke. Insulate or caulk leaky areas, or use an old-fashioned draft snake to block air underneath a door. Consider replacing old drafty windows if it is in your budget. Additionally Replace weatherstripping around doors. If you can see light around the edges of your doors, you need new weatherstripping.
- Install storm windows and doors. If window replacement isn’t in the budget. Now that you’ve sealed the drafts around your windows and doors, add an extra layer of insulation by installing storm windows and storm doors. Storm doors and windows shut out wintry winds and cold air. They can boost your home’s energy efficiency by as much as 45 percent.
- Reverse ceiling fans. Ceiling fans aren’t only for summertime cooling. Now’s the time to reverse ceiling fans (look for a small switch on the body of the fan) to turn clockwise and recirculate warm air downward.
- Wrap pipes. Head off burst pipes before freezing nights sneak up on you. Cover or wrap outdoor spigots, and slide pre-slit foam insulation tubes onto water pipes running through unheated cabinetry, crawl spaces, basements, and garages.
- Trim trees. Trim tree branches near your windows, roof, or parking areas before the weight of winter ice and snow can cause them to snap.
- Clean gutters. Clear dead leaves and debris from gutters to prevent ice dams and blockages that can force water into your home and through the ceilings.
- Get a programmable thermostat. The newest thermostats can learn your family’s habits and set themselves to keep the house cooler when no one is there and warmer when the home is occupied. You can also purchase a more basic programmable thermostat.
- Close up your fireplace. Make sure your flue closes all the way, and check whether you can feel air coming in when it’s closed. Glass doors around your fireplace opening are another way to keep warm air in and cold air out of your house.
- Cover your water heater. You can buy a water heater blanket for around $20 at the hardware store that will keep the tank from losing heat as quickly, saving you money on your heating bill.
- Get an energy audit. RISE will provide a free energy audit and give you suggestions on improvements you can make to your home. You can also pay for a more extensive energy audit. Click here to schedule one!
- Lower your water heater temperature. You can lower it from 140 degrees to 120 with no ill effect. And 120 degrees is the temperature recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.