Is your home ready for the cold? Winterizing your home is very important if you want to reduce your heating costs this winter. Did you know that air leaks alone can account for 10 to 25 percent of a home’s heat loss? It’s important to make sure your heating unit is working properly, but it is also equally as important to make sure none of the heat is escaping.
Caulking and sealing all windows and doors is the best way to protect your home from heat loss. First, you need to find the air leaks. You will have to play detective because some of the most important leaks are hidden. However, your work will pay off in energy savings. Look at areas where two different materials meet, like between brick and wood siding, between foundation walls and between the chimney and siding. You should also inspect around doors and window frames, TV and phone lines, water faucets, dryer vents and around electrical and gas service entrances. Now that you’ve found the leaks, you need to close them.
Caulk is best for cracks and gaps less than a quarter-inch wide. Look for caulk that will remain flexible for 20 to 25 years. Avoid the cheapest caulks because they generally don’t hold up well. Most experts recommend a clear, silicone acrylic caulk to seal your home from the inside and a pure silicone
caulk for the outside. Weather stripping is another option for sealing leaks. You should use it around moveable joints, like windows and doors. Choose weather stripping that will withstand friction, weather, temperature changes and wear and tear. 72166003
Another thing you should do this winter is have your HVAC unit serviced. It is important to do this twice each year because this maintenance can help prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Your HVAC
contractor should check for faulty electrical connections, lubricate all the moving parts, check & inspect the
condensate drain, check the system controls, check for proper levels of refrigerant and check temperatures exiting the duct into a room for optimal comfort. After your professional inspection, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure your unit continues running as efficiently as possible:
1) Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature that is comfortable. WFEC recommends 68 degrees during winter months – as low as 65 when no one is home.
2) Change your air filter regularly. Check it each month, especially during the winter. If the filter looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change your filter every three months. A dirty filter makes your system work harder and wastes energy.
Protecting outdoor pipes is also important during winter months. Pipes that are most vulnerable include exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home, pipes located in exterior walls and any other plumbing
on the exterior walls of the home. Did you know that a frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose? It could actually burst an interior pipe because when the water freezes, it expands, increasing
pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained and stored before the first hard freeze.
Plumbing pipes in unheated areas such as attics, crawl spaces and garages could also be at risk for freezing. Inexpensive foam pipe insulation is usually enough protection for moderately cold climates, like ours.
If pipes in exterior walls have frozen in the past (signs of this include: water damage, mold & moisture build-up) it’s probably because there is inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might be worth it to open
up the wall and add insulation to the area. 35543001
Homeowners should also have their chimneys inspected before their first use of the season. This cleaning will help create a safer operation of your system. It only takes a small accumulation of creosote glazing to create the potential for a chimney fire.
Cleaning outside gutters is also very important because a gutter that is full of debris cannot fulfill its true purpose. Water trapped inside can freeze in the winter, forming ice dams that weigh it down and cause damage to the gutters or roof. This can be avoided by cleaning them regularly.
Other things you can do to save money this winter include: check your water heater’s temperature and lower it to no higher than 120 degrees; adjust blinds and curtains to make sure they are open to catch free solar heat during the day and closed at night to keep heat inside and protect from drafts; use ceiling fans on low and reverse the rotation to blow air up in winter; and leave your garage door down because a warmer garage will help you save energy.
There are other ways to save energy too. Remember, you don’t pay for what you don’t use, so when you’re not watching TV or using lights, computers or other electronics, turn them off. Lower temps a bit and wear
a sweater or use a blanket to stay warm. Find even more ways to save by visiting TogetherWeSave.com or westflorida.coop.