Winterizing Your Home – Spend Some Time and Save Some Money

Written by: Ellen Burke

Back in May, we told you how you could save money on your energy costs during the spring and summer. Now that the fall is upon us, it’s not too early to think about the upcoming winter and your heating bills. If you spend some time now and do some relatively easy (and fairly inexpensive) things around your house, you’ll reap the benefits of lower energy costs and a more comfortable environment.

If you haven’t had your furnace inspected in a while, make an appointment with an HVAC professional to come in and take a look at it. (This type of tune-up will probably cost somewhere in the range of $100-$125, depending upon where you live). They can tell you if your furnace is running efficiently or whether it needs some maintenance. The time to find out it’s not working well is now – not when it breaks down on the coldest day of the year. And while you’re at it, remember to regularly change the filter in your furnace. You can get a replacement filter at a home improvement store usually for less than $20. The filter helps the air flow properly and makes the furnace run more efficiently so make sure to change yours regularly.

If you can do it yourself, once most of the leaves are off the trees, get up on a ladder and clean out your gutters. Gutters that get clogged by leaves will not allow the water or melting snow to drain properly and that can cause the water to back up into your house.

The community I live in requires everyone to get their air ducts cleaned every other year (since many buildings share a common firewall). Particularly at this time of year, you can find very reasonable deals to do this through deal sites like Living Social or Groupon. Not only will heat and hot air flow better through your house, it can also be beneficial to your health. Who wants to breathe air flowing through vents that have been clogged with dust or animal hair?

Not everyone realizes that – if you have a ceiling fan – you can reverse the direction of it (usually by switching a button on its base) to push warm air down into the room. (Just remember to switch it back when you’re ready to turn on your air conditioning next summer).

If you rely upon a fireplace to provide or supplement the heat in your home, always check to make sure it’s clean and that the damper opens and closes properly. And if you don’t have a screen on top of the chimney that feeds into the fireplace, consider getting one to keep debris and animals out of it.

We’re always reminded when daylight savings time ends (this year that day will be Sunday, November 3) to check the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This is particularly important as you head into the winter because an improperly functioning furnace or a poorly vented fireplace can lead to carbon monoxide issues in your home.

One of the best investments I ever made in my home was to replace all of my windows with more energy-efficient models. (The windows in my condo were more than 25 years old). The difference the new insulated windows made both in the comfort level of my house and the reduced amount of my monthly energy bill eventually paid off. Although it is not an inexpensive home improvement project, it will benefit you in the long run (and is always a good selling point, should you ever put your home on the market).

If you’re not able to upgrade your windows now, you can still insulate them by purchasing window insulator kits. These very inexpensive kits include plastic sheeting that’s attached to the interior of the windows with double-sided tape. This temporary fix will help keep any cold drafts out and is easily removed in the spring.

You know our motto here – a little bit of time spent usually pays off big-time. Invest your time in winterizing your home and expect to save money as your winter energy bills start to come in.

 


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