How To Winterize Your Home and Your Heating Bill
Today’s guest blog post is from Tracy Tesmer, founder of Tracy Tesmer Design • Build • Remodel • Repair, a home remodeling company. Tracy has over 30 years experience in the construction industry and also hosts a weekly home improvement radio show on WDUN in North Georgia.
Winter is well on its way in many parts of the country, and it’s time for everyone to start thinking about preparing your house for the winter season. Winterizing your home includes many easy and inexpensive projects that can save you money in heating bills in the long run. That old saying from your grandmother holds true in this case: “a moment to repair may save you an hour to replace!” Here are a few of my simple winterizing suggestions to help you prepare your home, and your wallet, for the cold weather ahead.
Get your HVAC serviced by a trusted local HVAC company. More specifically, have them inspect the duct system for leaks, as this can cause warmed air to leak outside instead of being distributed throughout your home. Alongside hiring a professional, there are also some easy, DIY improvements that can be done to help tune-up your home heating system.
• Make sure to change your filter monthly, and while you are thinking about it, stock up on new replacement filters for the next few months. When a filter gets clogged it restricts air flow, making your system work harder and less efficiently than it should. This not only costs you money in monthly usage bills, but the extra wear and tear shortens the life of your system.
• I also recommend buying a programmable thermostat if your home does not yet have one. Remember – it’s not just about having one, you have to actually USE it to see any savings. Many people purchase and install one but never take advantage of the variable heat settings that can decrease unnecessary heat consumption.
Check Attic Insulation
Insulation in your attic reduces unwanted heat loss out of your home during the winter months, and air conditioning in the summer months. In most attics, it’s recommended to insulate to R-38, which equates to 10 to 14 inches depending on the type of insulation. A quick way of determining if you need more insulation is by looking at the floor joists. If the joists stick up considerably past the insulation levels, you probably need more. If the joists are hidden under insulation, your attic is probably thoroughly insulated.
If you find your attic lacking, you can tackle it in the DIY fashion. Rolls of fiberglass batt insulation can be purchased at your local home improvement store to place over loose insulation, but make sure it has no paper or foil backing to allow for proper ventilation. This can be a very tedious process, as you have to make sure to cover every corner, nook and cranny is covered, which entails more than just rolling out the length of insulation batting. If you prefer, a professional can add loose fill insulation with blowing machines and get more consistent and thorough coverage. In most cases, there is less than a two year payback for fresh insulation, so it’s an economical improvement.
In addition to checking insulation, to prevent warm air from escaping out of the top of your house, weather-strip and insulate your attic hatch or door. Since warm air rises, this type of heat escape is common. Seal up holes in the attic that lead down into the house, such as open wall tops and ducts, plumbing or electrical runs. Any hole that leads from the basement or a crawlspace to the attic is a big energy waster.
Close Off the Chimney
Given most fireplaces are more for show than practical use, install glass doors or inserts to keep the heat from getting sucked out of the house. If you are going to use your fireplace, hire a chimney sweep to clean it out annually and inspect the damper for proper opening and closing. If it’s not working correctly, large amounts of heat can easily escape.
Properly Seal Doors & Windows
Using weather stripping around doors prevents cold air from entering the home. When you check all of your exterior doors to make sure weather stripping is intact, be on the lookout for a rotten threshold. A professional will need to replace this before weather stripping can be properly secured. If the weather stripping has deteriorated or is non-existant, install it on the sides and top of the door. The bottom of every exterior door should have a sweep running along the bottom to fully seal it from the elements.
As for windows, Keep an eye on double hung windows where the top half may slip down unknowingly. Walk through your house and make sure all the catches are securely locked to prevent this from happening. If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
Wear a Sweater!
Each degree on the thermostat is costing you money! If you are looking for an easy, creative way to lower your energy costs, wear a sweater. An extra layer of clothing has the same effect as raising the temperature 2 degrees.
Are there any other suggestions as how to cut your heating bill this winter? Let us know in the comments section of this post!