Whether we like it or not, Old Man Winter is coming soon. While that might not be cause for concern for those of you down south, up here in the Midwest, it’s a big deal! Typically winter means snow and ice and most of all…colder, much colder temperatures. Some people would rather be cold than warm…but not me, I’m focused on staying warm and cozy. Thinking about the upcoming season, I started conducting an assessment of my own home as to how I might ensure it is properly “winterized” and discovered some easy, affordable steps that were worth sharing:
1) Schedule a “tune up” for your furnace. Regularly maintained furnaces will not only operate more efficiently, but will help extend the life of your furnace (changing your furnace filter helps too). I would encourage you to do this sooner rather than later…later as in when it’s the middle of winter and your furnace decides to take a vacation with all of the other furnaces, leaving you in line behind your neighbor waiting for a repairman.
2) Check for leaks around doors and windows. Install weather-stripping around doors. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors and ceilings. Don’t forget to purchase foam gaskets to place behind your electrical outlets and switch plates, too. Do you have a “drafty” door? Sock it to your energy bill by making your own draft stop. Take an old tube sock and fill it with play sand or dry rice, tie it at the end and presto….you are ready to place this over your drafty threshold. (source-www.pintrest.com)
3) Use your ceiling fan to help promote heating efficiency in the winter. By turning your ceiling fan in “reverse” or “clockwise” on low, you will pull up the warm air and distribute it on the outside of the room, thus taking away the “chill” affect from the air when it directly blows on you.
4) Consider installing a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust to the desired temperature you set at the time you want it. Programming it to be lower when you are away and asleep will help save money on heating costs. By setting your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for 8 hr/day could help you save 10% on your heating/cooling costs. (source-www.energy.gov)
5) Consider reducing your thermostat on your water heater to “warm” which is typically around 120 degrees. This will reduce the amount of electric or gas it takes to keep your water heater warm, thus reducing your costs to operate. (source-www.ftc.gov)
6) Look for gaps around your baseboards and fill them with white or clear caulk to reduce any “drafts”. Consider using expansion spray foam for larger gaps around foundations and floors.
7) You’re not the only one who might get “chilly” in the winter. Check the R Value on your water heater. If it has an R value less than 24 you might consider purchasing a blanket/jacket for your water heater. Water heater blankets/jackets can be purchased at your local hardware store for about $20 (or you can comparison shop on Amazon to find the best deal). This could save you 7%-16% on your energy usage. (source-www.energy.gov)
8) Winterize your outdoor water spigots. First you will need to locate the water supply line to that particular spigot. It should have an indoor shut off valve. Turn the valve to off position. Now head back outside and remove the garden hose from your spigot and store it somewhere out of the elements. Turn on your water spigot to drain out any remaining water in the supply line. Once fully drained, turn it off and you should be good to go until spring.
9) Christmas presents aren’t the only thing that needs wrapped during the winter season! Consider wrapping your exposed pipes with inexpensive insulation or foam wrap. This will help protect your pipes against freezing temperatures as well as reduce your energy bills. While you’re in the wrapping mode, you might want to inspect your duct work at the joint and seams for any leaks. Consider wrapping them with foil duct tape to reduce warm air from escaping.
10) It’s a Wrap or is it? ….or maybe it’s an extra sweater or a pair of fuzzy socks along with a cup of hot chocolate. Consider turning back the thermostat when home and putting on an additional layer of clothing, such as a sweater or wrap to help keep you comfortable while you are lounging around enjoying the winter season.
While there are many more ideas on how to winterize your home, I would like to encourage you to consider a few strategies to make your heating bills budget-friendly:
- Consider contacting your energy company to see if they offer free or low cost energy assessments. You can search for an Energy Assessment Professional in your area at http://www.resnet.us/directory/search.
- Contact your energy provider. Inquire if they offer Budget Billing or a Leveled Payment Plan. These plans often average the energy usage from the past 12 months to determine what your monthly payment will be going forward for the next 12 months. Budget Billing helps to take the guess work out of what your energy costs will be from month to month thus making budgeting a bit easier.
- Inquire to see if you qualify for LIHEAP- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs. For more information and eligibility requirements visit benefits.gov.