Winterizing your home is an ideal way to save money on utilities as winter weather closes in. Not only can it help you save money this winter, but it can also help you, your family, and your guests feel warmer, comfier, and cozier all winter long. These are a few things you can do to cut the costs of heating your home this winter.
10 Ways You Can Winterize Your Home
- Change furnace filters.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Cover exposed pipes.
- Clean out your gutters.
- Reverse ceiling fan direction.
- Have your furnace inspected and tuned.
- Install insulation in your attached garage.
- Seal leaks and drafts.
- Hang plastic wrap around your windows.
- Invest in a whole house humidifier.
It’s a simple step that doesn’t cost a lot. However, it can save you a great deal of money by allowing your furnace to work more efficiently and requiring your furnace to kick on less often throughout the winter.
Not only do programmable thermostats make it easy to adjust the temperature within your home, but they also make it a simple matter to bump the temperature up during the hours when your family is home during the day. The handy device enables you to set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler while the family sleeps or during the workday when no one is home. This slight reduction in temperature can reduce your winter heating costs substantially over the course of an entire winter.
Water pipes on the exterior of your home or along exterior walls inside your home may need additional protection as winter weather sets in. Colder temperatures can cause pipes to burst which will increase your consumption of water and cause damage to walls, floors, and cabinetry in your home.
Gutters that are filled with leaves, limbs, and other debris are easily stopped up with water that becomes ice when frozen. This creates a hazard that can injure people if the gutters are ripped off the roofline and fall to the ground. It can also cause damage to your home when the gutters break. Stopped up gutters increases your risks of developing ice dams during winter weather outbreaks.
During the summer months, ceiling fans can be instrumental in drawing warm air up and out of your rooms while pushing cooler air down. In the winter, they can be equally vital by pushing warm air down, to the floor while pulling cooler air up and away from floor level.
All you need to do is reverse the direction fan blades spin. In the winter, your ceiling fans should circulate clockwise, and in the summer they should spin counterclockwise. For instance, in the winter, a rotating clockwise ceiling fan pulls cool air up, which pushes the warm air that rose naturally towards the ceiling down along the walls and floor.
Annual furnace inspections, maintenance, and tune-ups can ensure that your furnace is operating at optimal levels as winter closes in. Not only can these tune-ups warn you of potential problems before the worst of winter sets in, but they can also help to extend the life of your furnace for years – saving you even more money in the long-term.
Garages represent a large unheated room directly adjacent to the walls in your home. Insulating the walls in your garage, as well as your garage door, can help to reduce the amount of freezing air flowing into that room and help to serve as a buffer between the garage and your home.
You can increase your energy efficiency by installing a passive solar heater in your garage as well. These cost little to make and nothing to operate, but can raise the temperature inside your garage which will make it a more comfortable place to gather and take care of chores in winter as well as helping to reduce your heating costs inside your home as well.
The U.S. Department of Energy tells us that we can save up to 20 percent per year if we seal up leaks and drafts. Typical areas that are sources of drafts are corners, around chimneys, along the foundation, and where wires and pipes exit. Locate these areas and place caulking or weatherstripping to seal out the cold air.
The key is to create as many barriers that prevent frigid wind from blowing into your home as possible. Plastic wrap around your windows is an ideal way to prevent this flow of air from becoming a problem. One thing you might want to consider, for an added layer of protection would be to use bubble wrap around your windows. Believe it or not, the air inside the bubbles provide an additional layer of insulation.
Along with the colder weather comes dryer indoor air as we seal off our homes and turn the heat on. Unfortunately, dryer air can contribute to a number of health issues, including dry and itchy skin, sore throats, colds, sinus problems, nose bleeds, and breathing difficulties for those who have breathing or lung disorders. Dry air can also wreak havoc on furniture, wood floors, and cause ceilings and walls to crack. The solution is an automatic whole house humidifier to increase the relative humidity inside your home.
10 Ways to Prepare for Winter Power Outages
One additional step you need to take for your home as colder weather approaches is to plan ahead for the possibility of power outages this winter. This preparation is critical to take care of early as stores usually find shelves bare of critical items as winter weather system draws near.
Make sure you have the following to ensure that your household is safe and warm during the worst of winter storms.
- Invest in a standby generator.
- Invest in an alternative heating source for your home.
- Install battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors.
- Keep a supply of portable foods.
- Check flashlights and batteries and store them in a safe location.
- Learn how to operate an electric garage door manually.
- Obtain a weather radio.
- Have a plan for shutting off water valves is necessary.
- Buy extra blankets.
- Equip your home with non-electric entertainment options.
A backup generator enables you to keep the power on, including your furnace operating and refrigerator running, no matter how severe and widespread a power outage is. If you already have a standby generator, get a generator inspection to ensure it is properly maintained and will work properly if the power goes out.
Wood-burning or gas log fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and candle heaters can provide limited heat for your home during a power outage as can an indoor propane or kerosene heater – just make sure you have an adequate supply of fuel on hand.
This is especially important if you run appliances, such as standby generators to power your home.
Foods like energy bars, peanut butter crackers, and canned foods don’t need refrigeration and provide much-needed nutrition during a power outage. In addition, be sure to always have bottled water stored. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. FEMA recommends storing as much water as you can, and ideally enough for two weeks.
Also, consider investing in one or two quality lanterns that can provide a larger amount of light for your home during power outages.
If you have a powered garage door, take the time now to learn how to operate it manually.
Be sure to have the right type of battery to fuel the radio.
Know where your water shut off valves are located and are easily accessible.
It can get quite cold in a home when the furnace can’t operate during a power outage.
Don’t forget to build a few boredom busters into your plan, too. This includes things like board games, decks of cards, books to read, and similar items that encourage the family to connect while providing age-appropriate entertainment for the people who may be “trapped” along with you.
Your best bet, if you’re looking at a potentially prolonged power outage is to encourage the entire family to exist in one or two rooms of the home and focus your efforts on keeping those two rooms warm. This includes using plastic wrap to cover doorways and prevent drafts from coming into those rooms as well.
Having a plan in place to prepare for winter is the perfect way to make sure your family is safe and warm this winter without breaking the budget. These tips will help you make your home a comfortable and warm place to be – no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
Schedule Your Furnace and Generator Inspection Today
AQM offers inspections, repairs and maintenance services for generators, for furnaces and other electrical equipment in the Delaware Valley. We also offer a wide selection of gas log fireplaces and whole house humidifiers.
For more information on keeping your home warm, safe, and bright all winter long, schedule your estimate online or give us a call today at (610) 363-3940 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.