Preparing your home for cold weather is important for your comfort this winter as well as your utility bills. When you’re making your winter to do list, be sure to include these simple updates that will help prevent costly damage to your home and provide you with the peace of mind that you’re saving energy and money.
Give your furnace a tune up: Schedule an appointment to have your furnace inspected and serviced by a licensed HVAC technician. Annual maintenance by a professional will help ensure your furnace is in prime condition for the long winter and operating as efficiently as possible. Plan ahead and get a preseason check up before HVAC crews get backed up during the busy winter months. In addition to a professional inspection, don’t forget to inspect and change the furnace filters on a monthly basis. A dirty furnace filter obstructs air flow in the home and reduces efficiency.
Clean your chimney flue: Before firing up that first log of the season, make sure to call a qualified chimney sweep to perform an annual inspection and cleaning of your fireplace and flue. Heavy creosote buildup is the number one cause of chimney fires across the United States year after year. A good thorough cleaning of your fireplace and flue should cost around $125.00 and is well worth the peace of mind of having your fireplace and flue in top working condition so you can enjoy that warm and cozy fire this holiday season.
Check your insulation: Snuggling under a heavy blanket or layering on extra socks and sweaters may feel like a cozy way to watch your favorite holiday movie, but it could also be a sign that it’s too cold in your house. You may need more insulation to keep that warm, conditioned air your furnace is cranking out in all the right spots.
A good place to start is the attic. All it takes is a quick peek at the floor of your attic to know if you need more insulation. If your attic floor is insulated, but the ceiling joists are still visible, then you don’t have enough. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that the recommended level of insulation for most attics is approximately 10 to 14 inches or an R-value of R-38, depending on insulation type. Check out the Energy Star website to find a chart indicating the recommended level of insulation per region.
Install energy efficient windows: A significant amount of heat can escape through older, less efficient windows. Installing Energy Star qualified windows can reduce heat loss and increase comfort during extreme weather. According to the DOE, some Energy Star-qualified windows feature more than three panes for increased efficiency and sound insulation. Take the time to research which type of window is the best fit for your climate before making a purchase, as different models are available to fit the needs of different performance zones.
Prevent plumbing freezes: Insulate the water lines that run along any of the exterior walls or in the crawlspace of your home so the water will be less likely to freeze and cause the pipes to burst. It’s also a good idea to make sure your entire family knows where the main water shut off valve is located and how to turn it off in the event that a pipe develops a leak or bursts.
Winter forecasts look grim with many meteorologists predicting harsher weather conditions compared to what we experienced in many regions across the U.S. last year. A few updates to the interior and exterior of your home can safeguard it from potential damage and keep you and your family comfortable throughout the winter season.