Winter is quickly approaching and ice, snow, and wind can have devastating consequences on your home and wallet. Fortunately, there are many precautions you can take before the bitter cold arrives.
Tasks as easy as draining pipes and inspecting your chimney can help prepare your home for subfreezing temperatures and help you avoid the inconvenience — and expense of winter damage.
Here are some easy tips to help protect your home from the elements and even save on energy costs:
1. Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up
Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use and ultimately save you money. Make an appointment with a certified HVAC technician to ensure that everything is running properly.
2. Turn Down Your Water Heater
Conventional water heaters are typically set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by installers. Most households don't need that much steam, so lowering the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower) could reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent.
3. Change Furnace Filters
It's easy to forget, but it's important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Reduce your stress by creating a monthly reminder on your calendar.
4. Run Fans in Reverse
Most people think of fans when they need to keep cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Switching your fan to rotate clockwise circulates warm air near the ceiling back into the living space, which cuts your heating costs.
5. Check your Fireplace
Animal nests or creosote buildup in your fireplace can be hazardous. Have an annual inspection before building your first fire of the season.
6. Drain Your A/C and Water Lines
Remember to drain any hoses and A/C pipes to prevent water lines from freezing or bursting. Turn off exterior water spigots, make sure any hoses are drained and stowed away neatly, and if your A/C has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off too.
7. Insulate Your Pipes
Insulating pipes can cut energy costs and help decrease the chance of freezing pipes.
8. Install Storm Doors and Windows
Installing a storm door can dramatically increase energy efficiency by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Similarly, storm windows can make a huge difference when the cold wind starts blowing.
9. Caulk and Weatherstrip
It pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weatherstripping. Make sure to inspect places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit, and along the foundation.
TIP: Carefully (avoiding drapes and other flammable materials) move a lit stick of incense along walls. Where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in, and heating or cooling sneaking out.
10. Boost Insulation
It may not seem sexy, but insulation is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. It can make a big difference to add more insulation between walls, your attic floor and basement ceiling.
11. Seal Your Ducts
Hiring a professional technician to test your duct system and fix any problems could pay off in the long run. Properly sealing ducts can save you money and even protect your family against mold and dust.
12. Bring in the Outdoors
Cold temperatures, snow and ice can damage outdoor furniture and grills. If possible, store them in the garage or basement. If you have a gas grill with a propane tank, close the tank valve and disconnect the tank first — It must be stored outside. If you don't have storage space for your items, purchase covers to protect them from the elements. You also need to maintain your grill and cover it before putting it away for the season.