Beat the Chill: 8 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Winter

By: Samantha Vercellino

20150930_WinterComing_fbDon’t let the unusually warm weather the past two weeks fool you.

October marks the opening of the winter heating season. Jack Frost will be at your doorstep soon, which means there’s not much time left to get your home ready before the cold hits. Follow CUB’s simple tips to prepare for the frigid weather ahead.

Fire-Up The Furnace. Now’s the time to dust off those cobwebs, power on your furnace and see if it’s in good working order. Dirt and neglect are the number one causes of heating system failure. (Not to mention the fact that sediment build-up can be a fire hazard!) If money and time allow, schedule a fall check-up of your heating equipment with a licensed contractor to inspect its performance.

Also, don’t forget to replace your heater’s air filters—and then on a monthly basis after that! Dirty filters decrease air flow and energy-efficiency leading to higher energy costs.

‘Gut’ The Gutters. Your furnace isn’t the only household object that needs a good cleaning—your gutters need some TLC, too. Venture up to the roof to remove debris, leaves and grime before the cold weather is allowed to form ice dams. They prevent drainage systems from working properly which can lead to water seeping into your home. Save yourself the extra costs—and mess—by taking care of it now.

Don’t Forget The Ducts. Often, ducts go unnoticed because they’re buried deep in an attic or basement, but it’s vital for a home with a central heating system to properly seal and insulate them. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your energy bills by $120 or more a year.

Seal Heat In. It’s hard to keep the winter air out and the warm air in when your home is improperly sealed. Hidden air leaks can waste 10 to 15 percent of your heating dollars. Make sure your heating system isn’t overworking by using caulk or weather-stripping to seal small gaps or crevices. Also, use storm doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping.

Add More Layers. Most heat flows out of the house from the attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are frequently found. Fix these problem areas by adding foam-insulating sheets to the attic floor and basement ceiling. More insulation should be added if the existing insulation is even or below the attic floor joists.

Program Comfort. Treat yourself to an early holiday present with the purchase of a programmable thermostat. It allows you to turn the temperature down when you’re gone or sleeping, and back up to a comfortable level when you desire it. When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save you as much as $150 a year on your heating bills.

Keep Fans Spinning. Even though summer is long gone, keep your ceiling fans spinning to boost your home comfort. Force warm air down by running the fan clockwise (from your position looking up at it) and always remember to turn it off when you leave a room.

Let There Be Light. Unfortunately, winter brings shorter days and longer nights. Since your lights will be on more, think about switching to more efficient light fixtures, such as CFLs or LEDs. You can save $65 a year by replacing just five incandescent light bulbs around your house.

By following CUB’s tips, you’ll be rewarded with a home ready to take on winter—and lower utility bills to show for it!

Check out our energy efficiency page for more great tips.

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About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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