Tips on Preparing Your Home for Winter and Help on those Utility Bills!
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day are the top three days for home fires caused by candles. Never leave a room with a candle burning.
Below are helpful tips on various aspects of your home to get it and yourself ready for winter.
Fireplaces & Stoves:
ADT recommends when you burn your stove and/or fireplace that you only use materials made of oak, ash, or maple.
Before burning anything, check and make sure that all of your smoke detectors are working properly, along with your carbon monoxide detectors.
Don't forget to check around windows and door frames that allow cold air to come in. Your local hardware store will have sealants and caulk to seal any gaps. Windows and doors have always been a big area of heat loss. If you find your windows are letting in a lot of cold air, buy a window insulator kit. Basically, the kit is plastic sheeting that's affixed to a window's interior with double-stick tape. A hair dryer is then used to shrink-wrap the sheeting onto the window. This can be removed in the spring. It is not pretty, however an inexpensive and extremely effective way to keep out the cold air. The cost on the kit is approximately $4.00 to $7.00 a window depending on where you purchase it.
Make sure that your gutters are cleaned out, so no water will back up against your house and damage your roof, siding, wood trim, or interior walls and ceilings. Leaves trapped in the gutters can cause excess weight and pull them away potentially causing extensive water damage. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house's foundation where it could cause flooding or other water damage. The rule of thumb is that water should be at least 10' (10 feet) away from the house.
Check your insulation in your attic- if it is inadequate, it can lead to ice dams that can occur when snow falls and collects on the roof. Regardless of the climate conditions of the area you live in, you need a minimum of 12" (12 inches) of insulation in your attic.
Dodge the Drafts:
Drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your home's energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can easily make the old draft snake by rolling up a towel under those drafty doors. Make sure your drafts aren't giving your thermostat a false reading too.
Check the Furnace:
It is a good idea to have furnaces cleaned and tuned annually. Costs will often run about $70 to $125. A strong, odd, short-lasting smell is natural when firing up the furnace (in autumn), simply open windows to dissipate it. But, if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the furnace and call a professional. Throughout the winter, you should change the furnace filter regularly (check them monthly). A dirty filter reduces efficiency and could cause a fire in an extreme case.
A home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces. That's a huge amount of wasted money.
Reverse those Ceiling Fans:
By reversing its direction from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate.
Make Sure You Wrap those Pipes:
Make sure the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve) and lines are drained. A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare.
Drain Your Lawn -Irrigation System:
Draining sprinkler-system pipes, as with spigots, will help avoid freezing and leaks. Call in a professional to do the job if you like. Your sprinkler service will charge $50.00-$150.00, depending on the size of your system to winterize.
Last but not least, don't forget to stock up on your cold-weather essentials, such as salt or ice melt. Make sure your snow shovels are easily accessible along with your ice scrapers.
Hope these winter tidbits help, see you in the spring for more tips.......