Now that a late season hurricane (Sandy) has rocked the Mid-Atlantic and New England, in 2012 more than ever it is important to get some tips to get your house ready for winter. These simple things can end up saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars (and also can prevent harmful things from happening). Not every home is the same, some are old, some our new, some get freezing cold in the winter. All these problems can usually be fixed, but it’s the problems in this list that you don’t think about that are often the most important:
1. Clean out your chimneys, fireplaces, and furnaces – Be sure to inspect all the methods you use to heat your home. Old or malfunctioning heating systems can cause harmful air and even smoke and fires to move through your house. A once a year inspection is recommended.
2. Clean out the gutters and look for leaks – Cleaning your gutters can be a painful task but it is very important. Water can get into all sorts of places it shouldn’t when gutters are full of leaves and debris. Check out this clog free gutter system that can save you hundreds of dollars a year by not hiring a professional gutter cleaner, especially if you have a two story house or greater. If you have leaks in your gutters, it could be getting behind your siding or causing rot in other portions of the home.
3. Make sure your dryer vent is empty – Some of the quickest spreading fires in a home can start from lint that piles up in the dryer vent. Many people don’t know that some dryers are highly susceptible to being full of light fluffy material. Like most of these tips, this could save you hundreds in the long run.
4. Shut down the spigot outside – Your outside faucet has water inside of it. If it gets super cold outside in the winter time, it may burst. In addition, your wasted money and resources on water pressure you do not need.
5. Make sure the batteries are good in your Thermostat – Few things are worse than waking up in a freezing cold bedroom, which is exactly what will happen if the batteries die that power your thermostat, because it can’t send a signal to your heating system.
6. Get your home insulated – Insulating your home is one of the quickest paybacks of any home improvement project. Building r-value keeps your home comfortable, and you add longevity to the house and big energy bill savings. Insulation products have come a long way since the days of fiberglass insulation.
7. Get your weather stripping straight – Making sure that the spaces around your doors and windows, and the caulking in your home is all straightened out. Water and air move through even the smallest cracks in your house. Check not only the inside of the doors and windows, but the outsides as well.
8. Carbon Monoxide Detector Check-up – In the winter time when windows are shut is the prime season for CO2 poisoning. This silent killer produces sad news story after sad news story of people who for some reason don’t realize they need a CO2 detector or have one with a dead battery. Most CO2 detectors are not very sensitive, although for a little extra money, you can buy one that senses way below the government requirements.
9. Smoke Detector Check-up – Similar to the CO2 detector, checking all the smoke detectors in your house can be a life saver. Fire spreads quickly, especially here in these old Massachusetts homes.
10. Think about how old your windows are – Even if it is getting cold out, as long as the new windows you install have a fiberglassed reinforced frame you can get windows installed all year long. The NFRC (National Fenestration Ratings Council) rates all the windows in America for energy efficiency, to get the best results from your windows, get a contractor with a strong longevity track record and a window with a u-factor of less than .3. In the past 15 years windows have gotten exponentially more energy efficient, if your windows were installed before 2000 chances are they are inefficient.