October 22, 2012
Lower Your Energy Costs
10 Ideas That Will Save You Money This Winter
The official start of winter may be December 21st but as we know, cold weather can hit much earlier than we expect. Use these 10 easy home winterizing tips to weatherproof your home and get ready for the extreme weather ahead. These general home winterizing tips apply to anyone who wanting to maintain their home during the winter months and keep their energy costs down.
1. Disconnect and store all outside hoses. When hoses are left connected to the spigot, you run the risk of freezing pipes. Turn off the water and place a faucet insulator on the spigots to prevent them from freezing. Frozen pipes can be disastrous and cause home emergencies that lead to unforseen financial risks from unplanned repairs.
2. Winterize and insulate windows. Windows are a large source of heat loss within your home and windows account for 30% of building heating and cooling energy. Those with poorer quality windows, like single paned windows, should insulate them. Insulating the windows can cut down on your heating costs. Additionally, caulk window sills to seal leaks and help keep your money from going out the window.
Consider replacing your old, leaky windows with new, energy efficient replacement windows. Advanced technologies in insulating glass and Low-e coatings have increased the potential for greater savings in heating and cooling your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy increasing the R-value from R-3 (Energy Star) to an R-5 (a U-factor of around 0.20) reduces average heat loss through the window by 40%. All this translates into significant savings in energy costs to you. Find out more about replacement window options and enter our sweepstakes.
3. Replace furnace filters.Furnace filters should be replaced monthly to keep the air in your house clean and keep your furnace operating efficiently. Dirty filters contribute to allergies, especially as we close up our homes when the temperatures drop outside. And clean filters allow free air return through forced-air systems, and this is critical for the efficiency and longevity of your furnace.
4. Clean your home’s air ducts. Heating and air ducts are not as effective if they are dirty. They should be cleaned every 2-3 years depending on what goes on in the home to produce dirt and dust. Fire places, pellet stoves, or interior remodeling can all produce higher levels of dust and dirt that circulate and collect in your ductwork. This is a winterizing tip that is often overlooked, but something that can be very helpful for those with asthma, allergies and other breathing problems. Servicing the air ducts will increase the quality of air you breathe in your home.
5. Winterize your fireplace or pellet stove. Clean and service the fireplace and wood pellet stove. Get the chimney cleaned. Chimney fires are preventable but occur each year. Before starting up the fireplace or pellet stove this winter it is extremely important that you make sure they are safe. This home winterizing tip is particularly important when a pellet stove or fireplace is the only source of heat. Check the wood pellet stove for seal leaks. Clues that you need a pro are smoke leaking into the room, carbon monoxide detector alarms, or improper drafting. If there is an indication something is wrong call a reputable person to service the wood pellet stove or fireplace.
6. Clean the gutters. An important home winterizing tip is to clean and check the gutters. The purpose of roof gutters is to properly drain water off your roof and away from your home. If the gutters get filled with leaves and debris then water can back up cause roof leaks and other problems. This is also a good time to check for roof damage such as missing shingles, curling shingles, mold or algae. Although you may not notice damage inside yet, spotting damage on the roof gives you time to repair it before it gets worse.
7. Seal your doors against drafts with weatherstripping and door sweeps. Door sweeps help insulate the underside of your doors from drafts. Sealing drafty doors will prevent a constant cold breeze from entering your house. If you do nothing else but buy weatherstripping and door sweeps for all of the exterior doors of your home then you would still cut down on your heating costs.
Consider replacing old doors that are not well insulated. Weatherstripping and installing sweeps will not make up for the heat lost through and around poorly insulated doors. With the variety of beautiful and energy efficient entry and patio doors available today, there is no need to sacrifice beauty or natural light in order to save on your energy bills. Home Town Restyling has a full line of doors for every budget. Click here for more information or to request an estimate.
8. Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Winterizing the home is about lowering energy bills, saving money, preparing for winter, and creating a safe home. Every year there are fires because of holiday lights, candles, or fireplace and chimney fires. Make sure you change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. And don’t forget to check the fire extinguishers.
9. Cover or wrap the water heater. This easy home winterizing tip can help save money on the gas or electric bill. The Alliance to Save Energy recommends using an insulated blanket to cover the water heather because approximately 15% of your hot water heating bill goes towards keeping the water hot in your hot water heater. Insulating the water heater reduces heat loss and therefore the amount of energy needed to keep you in a good supply of hot water.
10. Know where your main water shut off valve is located. The coldest winter weather may be too much for even the most prepared homeowner. Pipes can freeze and the resulting damage to your home can be devastating. In the event of a water leak or frozen pipes, knowing where to shut your water off in an emergency can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs.
Use these 10 easy home winterizing tips to help you save money and keep your home safer this winter. Do you have an aging neighbor or relative? Check in with them- they may not know what needs to be done or unable to do it themselves.