The unforgiving winter months can wreak havoc on your home and, worst of all, cause your home energy bill to go through the roof. The good news is that you can take proactive measures to make sure your home is winterized efficiently and create a warm haven for your family. What does winterized mean to you? Here are 11 winterization tasks that will pay off big when you see your next energy bill!
One of the main areas of the home that can lead to energy loss is the chimney. A warped damper or inefficient flue creates the perfect escape for all the warm air your furnace is generating. As a result, your furnace keeps running to try to compensate and your bill gets higher and higher. To remedy the situation, install a fireplace draft stopper to keep the heat in and conserve energy year round. Alternatively, a more labor-intensive solution is to install a chimney cap on the crown of your rooftop chimney. Lastly, do a thorough inspection of the crown and fill in any noticeable cracks with patching cement to seal the deal.
Additionally, proper cleaning and inspection of your chimney and fireplace is important to prevent toxins from entering your home and fires due to creosote buildup. Read on to learn more about proper chimney and fireplace maintenance:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “…energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year.” Insulating your windows and doors is a vital step to eliminate drafts and keep warm air inside. Depending on the age of your home, you can utilize a variety of products to get the job done rather inexpensively. For newer homes, low density foam weatherstrip tape is an inexpensive solution to insulate windows and doors. For older homes, you might need to stack various materials to ensure proper draft blockage. Speak with a professional at your local home improvement store to get the right materials for the job. Last, but not least, a double-sided door stopper slips right under the bottom rail of the door to nip those pesky under-the-door drafts in the bud.
The installation of storm windows and doors goes hand-in-hand with insulation. Not only do both of these added lines of defense protect your home from the damaging effects of rain and snow, but they also help to keep cold air from getting in. The DOE states that the installation of storm doors alone “…can reduce energy loss up to 50 percent.”
A simple walk around the exterior of your home can reveal cracks and crevices that allow the cold air to seep in. The usual suspects are often found near windows, doors and around the foundation. Least expected cracks are typically found around hose spigots and beneath exterior siding. You can easily fill them in with a high-quality exterior caulking or an expanding foam sealant.
Heat rises and, if your attic is not properly insulated, your home will never feel warm enough. Worst of all, your heating bill will be very high since the furnace will run non-stop trying to reach the desired temperature. Inspect your attic to measure the thickness of your current insulation. According to Energy Star, “The recommended level for most attics is to insulate to R-38 or about 10 to 14 inches, depending on insulation type.” If yours is lacking, you’ll want to add more or even replace it entirely. A telltale sign that your attic is not properly insulated is that the space feels warm when you walk inside. A properly insulated attic will be cold during the winter months and hold the same temperature as the air outside.
Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer! In the winter, ceiling fans are an excellent tool to conserve energy and circulate heated air around the home. With the flip of a switch, your ceiling fan will turn the blades clockwise and force the warm air that has risen downwards so that it flows through the home. Set your ceiling fans on the lowest speed during winter to best circulate warm air and avoid generating a burst of air that causes a draft.
It’s always a good idea to get your furnace inspected on a yearly basis to make sure that it is running properly. An annual inspection by a licensed professional can identify small problems before they spiral out of control. You can also extend the lifetime of your furnace by keeping up regular maintenance and repair. Most importantly, you can avoid major issues that can leave your family without heat during the coldest months of the year and scrambling to find a repairman during their busiest season.
Air filters are the first line of defense in keeping your family healthy during the winter months. The air filter captures dust and allergens to improve indoor air quality. When the air filter is dirty, the warm air cannot flow freely and your furnace is forced to work harder. As a result, your energy bill will increase and you risk overheating which may cause your furnace to shut down altogether. In the winter, its best to change the air filter every month.
Installing a programmable thermostat is a fuss-free way to lower your energy bill. Set it to a lower temperature during the day, when no one is home. And program it to a warmer temperature during peak hours to maintain a comfortable temperature for the whole family. The DOE states that “You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.”
Frozen water pipes are one of the biggest winter woes that can have the most devastating consequences. When your water pipes freeze, the water expands and causes the pipes to burst. Once everything thaws, flooding is a very real possibility that can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage in a very short time. Wrap your pipes with pre-cut pipe insulation foam which can be found at a home improvement store. By insulating your pipes, hot water temperatures will be maintained and heat loss reduced which will decrease your energy bill. It’ll also take less time for the water to reach temperature ahead of a morning shower. This will conserve water and help reduce your water bill. Quite notably, if you’re planning to travel for an extended period of time during the winter months, it’s a good idea to turn off your main water supply.
In the winter, as water turns to ice, our garden hoses can suffer huge damage if they aren’t properly stored in a dry place. The ice will freeze, expand, and break holes in your hose, or the cold will break the fibers that hold the hose together. Click here for more information on properly storing your garden hoses for winter.
If you own a snowblower, then you probably live in a region where there are many tasks to winterize your home. A snow blower is a seasonal machine, but still vulnerable to normal wear and tear like your lawn mower or chainsaw. It may sit dormant for most of the year but that doesn’t mean the parts inside don’t eventually start to break down. Click here for more information on properly preparing your snowblower for winter.
One of the simplest strategies to reduce your home energy costs is to winterize your wardrobe, in addition to your home. According to the DOE, wearing a “…long-sleeved sweater adds about 3.7 degrees; and two lightweight sweaters add about 5 degrees in warmth because the air between them serves as insulation to keep in more body heat.” Additionally, if every home in the United States reduced the thermostat by just 6 degrees, more than 570,000 barrels of oil would be conserved each day.
We also have helpful information on the real costs of home ownership as well as the top maintenance tasks for your home.
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