The changing of seasons is the perfect time to check your home’s energy efficiency, especially when much of the country will be facing cold temperatures in a few months (except for those lucky few living in warmer climates).
As temperatures cool, now is the time to make some updates to your home to save energy and efficiency and avoid costly repairs.
Here are 11 ways to prepare your home for winter and conserve energy:
Clean the gutters
A few hours up on a ladder cleaning the gutters can save you later. If you don’t clean the gutters of leaves and other debris before the snow falls, you could have basement leakage in the spring when the snow melts and has no where to go.
Take your outdoor furniture indoors
To increase the life of your outdoor furniture, bring it indoors to store before the first snowflakes fly. If you have a canopy over a patio, take that down, too.
Have an energy consultant visit your home
Did you know that your local energy company will send someone out to test parts of your home for energy efficiency?
A friend recently did this, and she was told that her 10 year old refrigerator is consuming too much energy and that she should consider replacing it with a more energy efficient one. She knew her home was energy inefficient, but she didn’t suspect the refrigerator as being one of the main culprits.
Remove the filter from your heating system and clean it with a vaccum. This will cut your energy costs because the heater won’t have to work as hard.
Also, now is a good time to clean your dryer vent. A surprising amount of lint can build up there and potentially cause a fire.
Insulate your pipes
A burst water pipe can cause an enormous amount of damage. Between paying for the damage and the pipe, you could be looking at several hundred dollars or more in expenses.
Instead, insulate your exposed pipes so they are less susceptible to freezing. With premolded foam rubber, this can be an easy task to do. Also, during very cold weather, let the water drip to avoid pipes freezing.
Seal up cracks
Check your doors for places cold air can enter. If you have a vertical gap between the door and the frame, consider attaching a foam rubber strip to block the air from entering the house. The same can be done at the bottom of the door.
Have your chimney or flue inspected
Call an expert to assess your chimney and clean as needed. You can find them online or in the phone book under chimney cleaners. Alternatively, your local fire department may be able to recommend someone (CDC).
Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save you money by lowering the temperature automatically, which is especially handy if you often forget to.
Drop the temperature automatically during the day when you are gone, and set it to go up a few degrees an hour before you return home. Likewise, you can set it to drop the temperature by a few degrees an hour or so after you go to bed and to increase by a few degrees before you wake up in the morning. There is no sense in keeping the temperature up when you are snuggled under blankets, and you can avoid waking up to a cold house.
Replace inefficient windows
Replacing windows is an expensive endeavor, but you should recoup some of your money in the form of a lower energy bill, and it should also increase the overall value of your home.
However, if you can’t afford to replace some or all of your windows this year, consider buying kits at the store to cover them with plastic. If the plastic is attached right, you can still see out the window with no problems, and the plastic will keep the cold air on the outer side of the house, not inside. Your house will stay warmer, and you will have to pay less in heating.
Take the savings you realize on your electric bill to save money for new windows.
Have insulation blown into your attic
Heat rises, and if your attic isn’t insulated well enough, that heat you are paying good money for can rise right up to the attic, leaving you cold down below. This may be something you have to save to pay for, but it will pay off in reduced heating bills in only a few years.
Replace batteries in your alarms
Remember to change the batteries in your fire alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. (And if you don’t have these, install them this fall to keep your family safe.)
Even if you don’t have extra money this year to replace windows and have insulation blown into the attic, there are still simple things you can do to prepare your home for winter and to save on those upcoming, often expensive, energy bills.
What other steps would you recommend to prepare your home for winter?