Although still a couple months away, now is the time to begin preparing your home and yourself for the winter months.
Keep Old Man Winter at bay with these 19 winter energy saving tips for the home that you can complete during fall.Fall Maintenance Tips for Gutters, Pipes and the Central A/C
1. While it's still warm, clear rain gutters of leaves and other debris that might restrict water from your home's roof and downspouts. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams.
2. Repair roof leaks and inspect for missing and loose shingles. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a snowstorm.
3. Cut away tree branches that could fall on your house or other structure during a storm.
4. To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs/spigot. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes; if not, the water can freeze up and damage the pipes. Likewise, make sure to drain lawn irrigation systems to avoid freezing and burst pipes. Lastly, it's also a good idea to locate your home's water main shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.
5. Protect your central air conditioning unit with a cover, and remove and store window air conditioner units.
6. It's also helpful to change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that serves to redistribute warm air from the ceiling down to "people" level.
Tips to Keep the Winter Cold Out of Your Home
7. Properly insulate your home: 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. You can find detailed information on proper insulation practices here.
8. Weather-strip and caulk your doors and windows: To prevent cold air from leaking in through the tiny cracks on the bottom and sides of your doors and windows, you need to apply specific protection. Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find by moving your hand around the frame. For movable doors and windows, apply weather-stripping. For stationary windows and other components, apply caulk. Also, install storm windows or cover old, inefficient windows with plastic insulating kits. Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.
9. Plug holes and gaps: Electrical outlets are often overlooked when homeowners start to weatherize their home, but they represent large energy and heat loses. Start with outlets on exterior walls, and install pre-cut foam gaskets (also called outlet sealer or outlet insulator). If you notice large gaps between the electrical box, dryer vent, or cable wires entering your home, then you might want to add spray foam insulation or caulking to prevent wasting energy in your home.
10. Insulate pipes: You don’t want your pipes freezing during the winter. To reduce the chances of this happening, insulate them with newspaper or plastic to prevent heat loss. Also, let them drip ever so slightly, as running water is more resistant to freezing. You can find more information here.
Tips for Keeping Heat Inside Your Home
11. Clean your chimney: For those who use a fireplace or wood stove, it is vital to get your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary. As creosote and soot builds up, there is an increased chance of having a chimney fire or allowing smoke to enter your home.
12. Check your furnace system: Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your heating and cooling system. Naturally, if your central heating and air conditiong system isn’t working properly, you will pay higher energy costs in the winter. Among the chief ways to maintain system efficiency is to regularly change your air filter. 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, products like the CleanAlert FILTERSCAN WiFi can conveniently text you with a filter change reminder.
For additional tips on keeping your furnace running efficiently, click here.
7 More Tips for Protecting Yourself During a Winter Storm
One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time.
Here are 7 additional ways to protect yourself and your family during the winter:
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes: a flashlight, bottled water, nonperishable food items, blankets, phone numbers for your utility companies, and first-aid kit.
- Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and keep extra household batteries on hand.
- If you have an emergency generator, make sure you have gasoline stored and available to fuel it.
- Check the antifreeze and radiator in your car and keep a full tank of gas.
- Keep extra blankets and supplies in your car in case you get stalled on the road.
- Restock cold-weather essentials, such as salt, ice melt or sand.
- Install an outdoor thermometer to accurately gauge the temperature.
What tips would you add to this list to save energy and protect yourself during the winter months ahead?