Preparing Your Home For Winter
As the Thermostat Dips, NetQuote Offers Tips for Staying Safe and Warm
DENVER, CO, October 1, 2007 -- Even though the fall colors are still in bloom and the thoughts of snow and lower temperatures may not be on your mind, now is the right time to start preparing your home for the winter months to come.
By taking a few simple measures and putting a bit of time into some home maintenance chores, you can focus your attention on the holidays and enjoying the season with family and friends. Your home will be safer and warmer when the cold winds blow, and you'll have an opportunity to significantly reduce your energy bills--which puts more money in your pocket and enables you to do your part for the environment.
Close the Gaps
While it's great to feel warm breezes in the summertime, when winter comes it is time to bundle up your home. Air leaks from windows, doors, and other spots in your home can almost double your heating costs. Here is what we recommend you do to tighten up any air leaks in your home to make it more energy efficient:
- Weather strip doors and windows, including basement windows, doors or hatches to the attic.
- Depending on where you live, install storm doors and windows.
- Check the condition of your existing windows. If they are past their prime, replace them with energy efficient windows.
- Caulk cracks around windows, recessed lighting and bathroom fans use high--temperature flexible caulk for fixtures that expel heat), baseboards, and any cracks in the walls or ceiling.
- Seal up or remove window air conditioners or swamp coolers.
- Use foam gaskets to seal up gaps around electrical outlets and wall switches. Child safety plugs can also be used to keep cold air from coming through sockets.
- Seal any areas that are recessed within a wall or floor, including medicine cabinets, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, ceiling fixtures, etc., along with any cracks in your home's exterior walls.
- Check fireplace dampers to ensure they seal tightly, repairing or replacing as needed.
- Check your chimney for any gaps or cracks, paying close attention to the basement ceiling and attic floor areas. While minor fixes may be done by a homeowner, you may need to seek a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs.
Check Your Heating System
Your heating system has been sitting dormant during the summer months, so as the temperature drops, that is your sign to get your furnace and duct system into tip--top shape for the months to come. These simple maintenance tips will ensure your heating system is safe and running efficiently before you need to turn up the thermostat.
- Replace your furnace's air filter and tape off the areas around the filter to provide a tight seal for air flow.
- Check your duct system and use duct sealant in the areas where the duct seams and metal come together. If you have any flexible ducts, check for tears or rips and make sure they're positioned to hang or lie as straight as possible. This allows the air to flow more freely and with the right amount of pressure.
- Find out how long your current boiler or furnace has been in operation within your home. If it has been more than 15 years, it's time to shop for a new furnace. More people are turning to Energy Star equipment, which delivers more efficient heating and saves you money on energy bills.
- We also encourage you to seek out a reputable heating contractor to inspect your heating system from end to end. A heating service technician may find some areas that need repair or replacement and inform you of other ways to improve your home's heating efficiency, which can help you save money on your energy bills.
Your Home's Insulation
Most homes today are equipped with insulation, but everything wears out with time. If it has been a while since you checked your home's insulation, or you've just moved into an older home, now is a good time to see if there are any tears or rips in the insulation that need patching with plastic and caulking. You may want to also see if the grade of insulation is adequate for the area where you live and if you can benefit from additional wall insulation. Checking with your home improvement store is a good place to start.
Even in the country's colder climates, plumbing within interior walls have enough insulation to keep them from freezing. But if you have water pipes that run through an unheated crawl space, or have exposed pipes that run along an outside wall or garage, weatherizing water pipes with insulation is a very good precaution to take.
IMPORTANT: Cracked washing machine hoses are the leading cause of water loss due to frozen pipes. Be sure to check them and replace as needed.
Taking these maintenance steps will make your pipes less susceptible to freezing and bursting, which can cause expensive water damage and a potential phone call to your home insurance agent.
Learn More about Winterizing Your Home
Your local energy company's website can be a great resource, offering their residential customers appliance and home improvement rebate programs, energy-efficiency tips, and online tools you can use to make your home safer and more efficient during the winter months. The Environment Protection Agency EPA)'s Energy Star website has a wealth of information on being more energy efficient, including their EPA Home Sealing Do--It--Yourself Guide.
While you're learning how to save money on your energy bills, NetQuote also offers tips for saving money on your home insurance, a helpful home insurance buyers guide, and an easy way to get a free online home insurance quote.