Give it any name you like. Old Man Winter. Jack Frost. Or Morozko, if you believe in Russian folklore. Whether you embrace or endure the colder weather or something in between, it’s always a good idea to winterize your home and car. You’ll save money and protect your assets. You’ll also be more comfortable as you clamber around the house, or careen (but please, not literally) around the countryside.
First, Button Up Your House
Assess what’s going on within your home. Does it need a bona fide upgrade to keep away Old Man Winter? Consider more permanent solutions like new windows, roof, or an energy efficient furnace. All can dramatically reduce your energy bills.
If a major home repair isn’t in the cards right now, there are a number of smaller tricks to keep the cold away. Our favorites to fool Old Man Winter:
• Keep your gutters clean. If drains become clogged, ice blocks can form. This can ruin gutters and allow water to leak into the house. Cold and wet is never fun, but combined with water damage, can be catastrophic.
• Seal leaks around the house. Find pesky leaks. Walk around your home on a windy day, hold a candle to see where air might be leaking. Check around windows, door frames, recessed lighting areas and even electrical outlets. Use weather stripping and caulk to keep out the cold.
• Pay attention to doorways. Take extra care by caulking doorways, applying sealer to exterior cracks in brick, and using door sweeps. All can reduce unwanted drafts.
• Wrap your windows. If you don’t opt for new windows, wrapping windows will keep heating bills down and the air inside warmer. For just a few dollars per window, you’ll save money. You’ll also be more comfortable. If you have storm windows, make sure they are properly installed and in good condition. Replace cracked or ill-fitting storm windows.
• Insulate and celebrate. Serious insulation can lead to big savings and added warmth. Tour your attic. If the ceiling joists are visible, consider adding more insulation. If you’re adding more over the old, skip the type with paper backing; it can trap moisture. Instead, add insulation without the backing.
• Wrap your air ducts, too. When ducts are insulated, heat won’t be lost on its way to the vent.
• Fix your furnace. Regular maintenance is a must for your furnace. If you notice any unusual odor, call an expert right away. It’s also a good idea to have it cleaned or tuned annually. Check on your furnace monthly and regularly change furnace filters.
• Tips for your chimney. It’s wise to have your chimney professionally inspected each year. Remember to close the damper when it’s not in use; and, if you don’t actively use your fireplace, consider a chimney ‘balloon.’ You will keep drafts out and warm air in. For woodstoves, close the glass doors when not in use.
• Put ceiling fans in reverse. Yes, it’s true. When you change the direction of your fan blades to clockwise, your fan will recirculate and push the warmer air down to where you are.
• Install a programmable thermostat. It will reduce heating costs by keeping the temperature down at night or when you’re away during the day. It also makes adjusting the temperature automatic and hassle-free – you control the timing. (And no sense in paying for the energy if you’re not there to enjoy it…)
If you decide that a larger, energy-saving investment is a better route, we offer many affordable financing options – and payments that aren’t out of reach. An ECCU Home Equity Credit Line is a perfect source for funding energy-saving improvements or perhaps a personal loan. Certain improvements, too, will give you that investment back if you sell your home.
Links to love:
Popular Mechanics– winterize home tips
Bob Vila– winterize home on a budget
How Stuff Works– winterizing your home without poisoning your family
Gaiam Life– how to program digital thermostat to slash utility bills