Winter is coming! — and unfortunately, so are those heating bills. The good news? Heating bills and other unexpected and miscellaneous winter-related costs can be greatly reduced by putting in a little time “winterizing” your home. While no, it won’t ever seem as appealing as breaking out those holiday decorations on a Sunday afternoon, your future-self will certainly thank your little bit of elbow grease you put in now.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve rounded up a list of the most commonly recommended winterizing tips for you:
Before you turn on the furnace (although it’s never too late), it’s best practice to do a professional maintenance check with a professional. The service could cost you $100, but avoiding a major repair or replacement in the future is worth the grand that would cost you. If it’s been a year or less since your last maintenance check or you have a fairly new setup, try your hand at a DIY check with these maintenance tips.
Vents & Ducts
In addition, make sure you change out your vent filters (and have extra on hand to change more often than usual in the winter months to save on the heating bill), as well as cleaning out the air ducts.
Pipes, Faucets & Tanks
Covering water pipes with pre-slit foam tubes (look very similar to pool noodles), helps multi-fold with hot water. One, you aren’t losing heat as the hot water travels, and therefore aren’t having to heat it up to as high of a temperature (so you are paying less). You also won’t have to wait as long for the hot water when you turn on the faucet. In addition, don’t forget to cover outdoor faucets with styrofoam covers to keep them from freezing! (P.S. You can also buy an insulating cover for your hot water heater if you feel the tank is losing warmth).
While certainly not a “must have”, setting up a programmable thermostat can help greatly reduce your heating bill. Think about all the time spent heating the house while no one is home! With a programmable thermostat, you can program the heat to greatly lower when you know no one is home, essentially cutting your bill by a major portion.
Check for Leaks and Drafts
Little cracks and crannies can go most of the year fairly hidden, but once those cold winds pick up, you suddenly realize just how much those little drafts of air can cool down your home! To prevent losing the heat you’re working so hard for try to identify any small openings to the outside (use your hand to feel for cool air, or use a “leak” detector tool). Once inventory has been taken, work to seal each one. The easiest and most cost-effective way to fill cracks along doors and windows is typically with rope caulk, but there are endless “weatherproofing” options out there with strips, sealable plastic, etc. If nothing else, be sure you are taking care of the draft that often comes in under doors to the outside. (Even a rolled up towel will do!)
Think About Humidity
If you have a house-wide dehumidifier in your basement, remember to change it to the winter setting. Have a portable humidifier? Break that out, give it a clean with vinegar and distilled water and relieve some of the “dry air” that winter brings along. Not in the market for a new appliance? Check Amazon for single room humidifiers with great reviews!
Before you even think about turning on that fireplace, check for obstructions and clean it! Many house fires start in the winter from something being stuck or caught in the chimney. Not to mention, who wants a years’ worth of dust and dirt lingering inside their house. If it’s been more than a year or looks like it’s going to take more than a little DIY cleaning, get a professional – it can take serious work! Tip: If you don’t have one already, think about getting a metal screen for the top of the chimney – keeps anything large from winding up in the chimney, and offers great peace of mind.
Protect Your Roof
In the winter, the name of the game is to NOT have any chances of pooled water that could freeze on your roof. Why? The frozen pools, eventually turn into melting pools of water on your roof leading to leaking and other damages. To avoid, do a check of your roof and replace any damaged shingles. Clear gutters and downspouts (leaves builtup hold water close to the roof), and add insulation in the attic to help prevent water from being able to freeze. Not sure how to check your roof? Cross the street, get out your binoculars and inspect. Sounds crazy, but hey – you will have a thorough check of the roof instead of guessing!
Check Those Detectors
There are more home fires in the winter than any other time of the year due to furnaces having to supply the house’s heat. It’s always a good idea to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before getting too far into the heat-needing season!
Bringing the hot air back down from the ceiling by reversing your ceiling fans, can reduce heating costs up to 10%. That’s a win in our book!
Give your A/C Some Love
Before you say goodbye to the beloved A/C, doing just a little bit of maintenance helps you both now, and later. By cleaning fan blades and condensing coils, and covering your unit with a weatherproof cover, you will extend the life of your A/C. If you have window units, don’t forget to remove to help stop cold drafts from coming in through that open window.