As we head into the winter season, many people are switching on the heat and unpacking warm sweaters in anticipation of the next few frigid months. Keeping your home or office comfortable during the cold months can be an expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Weatherizing your home—making it more energy efficient and resistant to weather changes—can keep utility costs low during the winter months by keeping heat inside and the cold outside where it belongs.
Check for Air Leaks
When air can escape your home, your heat will leave with it—this allows cold air to sneak inside your cozy home. The first step to weatherizing your home is to check for air leaks and repair them before the temperature drops. Some of the most common places to find air leaks include:
- Around doors and windows
- Any place where plumbing enters or leaves the building
- Along the foundation of the building
- Around attic stairs
- Electrical outlets or switches
- Around the garage door
Fixing an air leak is often fairly simple. Small leaks can be fixed with caulking, and weatherstripping can be used to seal larger areas. All of these items can be purchased fairly inexpensively at your local hardware store.
If you want your home to remain warm during the coldest months, it is important that your attic is properly insulated. All attics should have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation, but closer to 15 inches is even better. It is also a good idea to insulate around piping to avoid your pipes freezing or, since water expands as it freezes, even bursting in some cases. Insulating plumbing yourself is easy enough, as pipe sleeves (pictured above) can be purchased inexpensively at any home improvement store.
Perform Preventative Maintenance to Your Heating and Cooling System
In order to continue running efficiently, your heating and cooling system will need preventative maintenance twice per year. With enough knowledge, you can perform this maintenance yourself, which includes:
- thorough inspection for repairs
- replacement of furnace filters
- cleaning of ductwork and vents
- cleaning coils if necessary
- an all-around tune up of the unit.
If you don’t feel comfortable performing seasonal maintenance on your own, most HVAC companies offer service contracts that include regular visits to make sure your heating and cooling system is running well. Preventative maintenance is an important part of weatherizing your home or building, helping you maintain affordable utility costs and increase the life of your HVAC unit.
Turn Your Ceiling Fans to Clockwise
Even though most homeowners know that using their ceiling fans during the summer contributes to a more comfortable home, they typically stop using them when the temperatures drop. But ceiling fans can play a huge role in keeping your space warm, too. When you turn your ceiling fans to clockwise, the blades will pull the warm air that is gathering around your ceiling and push it back down.
By following these tips, you will increase your energy efficiency and enjoy lower utility bills this winter season!