Are you ready for what the Farmer's Almanac predicts will be another, "teeth-chatteringly cold winter across the United States?" In case you aren't, here are 14 winter energy saving tips for the home that you can implement right now, while it's still nice out.
Follow these tips, and your home will be ready to handle winter's worst.
Prepare and Protect Your Home Heating
Let’s start by maintaining the part of your home that you care most about when the mercury plunges—your heating and cooling system.
1. Inspect your furnace
Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and calibrate your heating and cooling system. Naturally, if your central heating system isn’t working properly, you will enjoy less energy efficiency and pay higher utility costs in the winter. Install insulated ducts to avoid heat loss, and then clean the registers thoroughly. You wouldn’t want to lose heat when the temperature is 40 degrees below zero.
>> Read this article for additional tips on keeping your furnace running efficiently.
2. Replace your home air filter
Since you’ll be using your heating system often during the winter, you need to ensure that the furnace air filter is replaced. A clogged air filter requires your furnace to strain to circulate heat and air through your home, resulting in wasted energy and reduced warmth. If you aren’t sure when to change your air filter, there are monitoring devices that can remind you when is the ideal time to change your filter.
>> Here's How to Change Your Home Air Filter.
Fill the holes in your house so you don't lose heat!
You may not realize it, but there are probably scores of tiny cracks and openings through which cold air can enter your home and heat can exit. The next step is filling these holes.
3. Insulate, insulate, insulate
Your home’s insulation is like its blanket. As a result, you want it completely covering your walls, attic and subfloor to avoid unpleasant drafts which will force your heater to waste energy in heating your home. Check your foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house to prevent heat from escaping. These common structure openings can allow water to enter your home and freeze, resulting in possible cracks and larger damage.
>> Read this article to understand proper insulation practices.
Since most heat loss occurs around the edges of your home, you need to make sure these areas are properly insulated. Start by insulating your attic, then move on to the basement, the crawl spaces and the garage.
4. Caulk and weather-strip your doors and windows
You can check for gaps in your doors and windows by holding a lit match to them. If the lit match blows out, that means outside air is getting in. You need to fix this before winter. Apply caulk to seal stationary parts of your windows and doors, and use weather-stripping to protect movable components.
>> Read these tips on effective weather-stripping of your home.
Mind your roof while winterizing your home!
Obviously, a roof is a home’s hat, protecting it from the elements and Mother Nature. Make sure yours is ready to protect your home during the cold winter!
5. Replace damaged shingles
It goes without say that ineffective shingles could allow water to enter your home. Check to see if any are damaged and replace them.
6. Maintain your gutters
There will probably be a ton of leaves in your roof’s gutters from the fall. Clean them out. Ensure that the gutters are repaired if they were damaged, and function properly. You want proper water flow during the winter.
Winterizing your home plumbing
Cold weather can cause serious damage to your home’s piping. Take the necessary steps to properly winterize your home's plumbing.
7. Turn off exterior hose bibs/spigots to prevent outside pipes from bursting during cold weather.
8. Drain your pipes and hoses to prevent left over water from freezing and causing damage. Don't forget to drain underground sprinkler system pipes and remove and store associated backflow or pressure reducing (RPZ) valves. If you have a pool, drain its plumbing and winterize your pool.
9. Insulate your indoor pipes to prevent freezing. Newspaper or plastic works just fine for this job. Also, let your pipes drip ever so slightly, as running water is more resistant to freezing.
>> Watch this 8:06 minute video on preventing frozen pipes.
Other Winter Energy Saving Tips for the Home
Here are some additional, equally important, tips on winterizing your home.
10. Trim trees that are near your house. All it takes is one severe winter storm, and you could find yourself being bedmates with that giant overhanging branch.
11. Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and keep extra household batteries on hand.
12. Store outside furniture and decorations to prevent wind and water damage.
13. Repair garden and lawn tools, even though you won’t use them until the spring. This way they’ll be ready to go.
14. Keep a winter emergency kit on hand that includes water, nonperishable foods, a flashlight, a first aid kit and a portable radio. Cellphone chargers are a great addition for your winterizing kits.
Additional Winter Energy Saving Tips and Resources
Check out these articles for more information about winterizing your home.
- Winter energy saving tips for the home
- 16 Top Tips for Winterizing Your Home
- How to check and seal windows
- How to winterize your home and car (a 1:22 minute video)
Are you ready to brave the winter? What other suggestions would you add to this list of 14 tips?