It’s That Time Of Year Again
Winter officially begins on Thursday, and if you haven’t already winterized your home, it’s time to take action. Follow these steps to keep the comfort in, keep the cold out, and ensure your family’s safety. The energy cost savings doesn’t hurt, either, so get to it!
Seal Drafty Windows and Doors
Exterior door and window leaks are the biggest source of energy loss when (baby) it’s cold outside. You can help prevent the heat sneaking its way out, and the cold creeping its way into your cozy home by sealing the gaps. For gaps at the edge of windows, you can simply caulk the gaps. (Be sure to cut out old caulk for best results.) For gaps between panes on newer windows, a little bit of weather stripping can go along way in keeping winter out. On older windows, short of reglazing, you can use weatherstripping or caulk to seal gaps.
For doors, check the weather stripping where the door seals. At dusk, you can check from outside for light getting through cracks. For all window and door leaks, you can light a candle, and hold it near potential gaps in windows and doors to check for a flicker caused by escaping warm air, or entering cold air.
Don’t Heat Vacant Rooms
If you have any spare rooms, or rooms that are rarely used, keep the doors to them closed, and close the vents in them. This will prevent your central heat from working to heat unused space. Unless someone decided to start using the vacant room, no one would notice the sweet savings on your energy bill.
A bonus tip, if your home has more than a single story, you can partially close the vents on the top floor, and keep the doors to frequently used rooms open. Be careful, though. If your air handler is oversized for your house, this could put unnecessary stress on it, causing it to die prematurely.
Blow the Warm Air Down
Ceiling fans are fantastic for cutting cooling costs in the summer. The breeze effectively reduces the perceived temperature, meaning you can turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees to lighten the load on your air conditioner unit. What about in winter?
Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the rotation direction that the blades spin. While you don’t want to feel the breeze when you’re trying to stay warm, you do want to generate circulation of the air in the room to even out the temperature between the top of the room and the bottom. Switching your ceiling fans on in reverse direction accomplishes this. No longer will the risen warm air stagnate against the ceiling, leaving the heat from your furnace under-appreciated. You can set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower, to lighten the load on your furnace, while staying comfortably warm when it’s cold outside.
Check Safety Systems
Test your fire and smoke alarms, your carbon monoxide sensors, and your security system components to make sure the batteries are good, connections are secure, and CO sensors have not yet expired. Fires and carbon monoxide are both more common during cooler months, and holidays are also a time when thieves may be after the presents under your tree, unfortunately. Don’t forget to check mounting brackets and wiring for external security cameras and motion sensing lights. Being safe is essential to feeling cozy at home.
Stock Up and Be Prepared
Start with keeping a backup stock of food in case you are stuck inside due to snow or ice. It also makes sense to check your first aid kit to see if anything needs to be replenished, or buy one if you do not already have one. Keep extra stock of prescription medications, just in case you are unable to get a refill when running low. Make sure you have a means of opening cans in the event that power is lost. Keep firewood on hand, or another means of keeping warm. Keep emergency numbers handy, and keep your cell phones and any supplemental power banks for them charged. Stock up on batteries, test your flashlights, check your fire extinguisher(s), and keep several gallons of potable water on hand. In the event that you need these resources, your future self will thank you later. So do something nice for yourself and your family: be prepared.