Well it's officially December, which means it's time to embrace the cold temperatures and all that comes with it. Living in Colorado has many perks, but avoiding the cold in winter has never been one of them. That's why our blog today will cover a long list of things you can easily do to winterize your home. Some of these things will help protect your home, some will help protect your wallet, and some will do both. Go over our list below and check your home to see which apply to you.
1) Cut or trim any overhanging tree branches.
Ice and snow weigh down branches and can cause them to break. Be sure to remove any that are hanging too close to the house or driveway.
2) Check your Roof
Check your roof for any damaged or loose shingles. The constant freezing and melting that happens on roofs in the winter will make any roof damage much worse. Take care of it now before it gets more expensive and harder to repair. Clean off debris from the roof. Anything left on your roof can create a place for snow to build up and ice to form.
3) Clean your gutters
You've heard it before, but we can't stress this enough. Making sure that water can flow freely through your gutters now will help prevent icicles and ice dams from forming later. Cost: Other than your sweat and time, free.
4) Flush the Water Heater
Particles and sediment can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit's efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater functioning at its best.
5) Clockwise Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are everyone's favorite summer budget-saver. But they can help out in the winter as well! Have your ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction so they push hot air along the ceiling towards the floor. If they're going counterclockwise, they won't be as effective.
6) Replace Filters
Regularly changing the filters in your central air and heating system can significantly improve its efficiency and longevity, while easing the pressure on your wallet.
7) Window Insulation Film
It may not be the most fashionable tip, but window insulation film can keep up to 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows.
8) Door Draft Guards
Draft guards can help save heat from escaping under the door. (If you don't want to shell out for a draft guard, a rolled towel placed at the bottom of an exterior door will also do the trick.)
9) Weatherstrip Tape
Drafts and air leaks increase your heating costs, so make sure your windows and doors are sealed tight with weatherstripping. Simple, easy, and smart.
10) Increase Insulation
It may not seem sexy, but insulation is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. It can make a big difference to add more insulation between walls, and make sure your attic floor and basement ceiling are well covered. For maximum heat retention, pack fiberglass insulation around basement doors, windows in unused rooms, and window AC units. Make sure your attic floor is insulated, too. Just remember to be careful and wear gloves!
11) Caulk It
Any remaining gaps in siding, windows, or doors can be filled with caulk. For extra drafty windows and doors, caulk the inside too, pulling off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation.
12) Chimney Balloon
Your chimney is a huge source of heat loss come wintertime. If not in active use, plug it up with a chimney balloon to keep drafts out and heat in.
13) Switch Fans in Reverse
Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer: air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space - cutting your heating costs as much as 10%!
14) Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines
This one's really easy, and it will even save you a few pennies next summer, too: Simply drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don't have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off. Also, make sure any hoses are drained and stowed away neatly. Turn off exterior water spigots. It's also a good idea to seal any water leaks around the place -- and don't forget to remove any window A/C units and store them so you don't invite cold drafts all winter.
15) Turn Down Your Water Heater
While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don't need that much steam, and end up paying for it -- in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%.
16) Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up
You probably already know that cars need periodic tune-ups in order to run their best. Well the same is true for heating equipment. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs. Many utilities offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians -- but you often have to call early, as HVAC crews get backed up once heating season starts. Some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.
17) Insulate Your Pipes
You can save hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous.(We'll have another blog focussing on frozen pipes later) Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation. (Use the same method to determine if your hot water heater would benefit from some insulation.) You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Ideally, choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is a measure of its heat-blocking power. Pipe insulation is often R-3 or, for batt styles that you wrap around, a stronger R-7.
18) Seal Those Ducts
Studies show 10% to 30% of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from ducts. Therefore, it could pay to hire a professional technician to come out and test your duct system, and fix any problems. Properly sealing ducts can save the average home up to $140 annually, according to the American Solar Energy Society. Plus, you'll have better protection against mold and dust. Many utilities offer incentive programs for duct improvement. Be wary of "duct cleaning" services, however; absent an air quality problem, most homes don't need their ducts cleaned.