Tips for winterizing your home

With the temps cooling off a bit this weekend in the Chicagoland area, it made me realize that summer is officially over.  And fall (or winter, I’m sure) is headed in.  We might be turning on the heat sooner than we think.  And with that, it’s important to go over some tips to save you money this winter and prevent any major problems from happening.

1. Check your furnace filter.  Your furnace has to work a lot harder to produce heat (costing you more money) if you have a clogged or dirty filter.  A new filter will cost you nothing compared to the money you’d be spending on your heating bill.  And go to the store and replace it yourself.  You’ll save even more than having a handyman do it.  A good estimation is to check it monthly.  If your furnace hasn’t been cleaned in a while, it’s best to contact an HVAC technician to look things over prior to it being used.

2. I know we’re not even close to being done with leaves falling.  And if your trees are higher than your roof, you can guarantee that those leaves end up in your gutters.  Make sure to clean the gutters out to prevent water from building up and freezing.  If it’s frozen in your gutters, it can end up dripping and leaking into the house.

3. Check the caulking around windows and doors to keep cold air out.  You might also want to buy one of those do-it-yourself plastic sheeting kits to add an extra barrier of protection from the cold air.  Those cover windows and glass doors.  You can even use them on window wells in the basement.

4. Invest in a programmable thermostat.  Even if you’re not home, you’ll want to keep the heat on at least 65 degrees.  This will prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting.  The programmable thermostat can save a lot of money by setting it in advance to turn down when you’re gone and back up right before you get home.

5. If you have a fireplace, make sure to close the damper when you’re not using it.  If the damper doesn’t close well, you can put some insulation in to close it off.  But please remember to remove it before starting a fire!

All these tips should help keep you warmer, save you money, and even save some energy.  More great tips can be found here and here. You can also visit me online.

Keep your home warm and your energy bills low

With some very cool temperatures in the Chicago area this week, I know most people aren’t ready to start worrying about snow and shoveling and below freezing temperatures.  Unfortunately, it seems like summer is over and those 30-40 degree temperatures are here to stay.  In order to save money on your electric and heating bills this fall/winter, here are some tips to keep your house warm without costing a fortune:

winterizedhome1. Check for air leaks and drafts around all windows and doors.  One poorly sealed window can cost you hundreds of dollars this winter in extra heating bills.  You can purchase inexpensive insulation kits at all major home improvement stores, as well as Walmart and Target.  The plastic makes sure that all windows are sealed to prevent any extra air from escaping in.  Also, take advantage of those sunny days.  Even if it’s chilly outside, if there is a day with a lot of sunlight, open your drapes to get the solar energy to warm the room for you.

2. Check for leaks and drafts everywhere else.  You don’t want to forget to close your damper on your fireplace when not in use.  Please remember to keep it open if you are burning a fire.  Wall plates, plugs, and switches can allow cold air in.  You can purchase pre-cut foam to place under the switchplate to keep that closed.  And check your duct work.  Duct tape can fall off or bunch up over the years.  Make sure there’s no open holes bringing cool air in.

3. Give your furnace a yearly physical.  Replace its air filter to get the most energy efficiency out of it.  Clogged filters can cost you a lot of extra money since the furnace is working extra hard to get the heat through those clogs.  Have it inspected by a licensed and bonded HVAC technician yearly.  This can save you money in the long run to prevent any broken furnace in the middle of the winter. 

4. Invest in a programmable thermostat.  This way you can keep the heat lower when you’re at work so it’s not as warm when you’re not home.  You can set it to start warming up just before you get home at the end of the day.  Or if you’re on vacation, you won’t have to worry about your pipes freezing (it does happen!) because your heat is completely off.  These thermostats are so reasonably priced now.  They can be purchased for as low as $20.

5. Consider running your appliances (dishwasher, washer, dryer) in the morning and evening when you’re home.  It will help to heat the house as its running.  While you’re at it, make sure that dryer lint vents are cleaned after every load and that you’re only running full loads of laundry and dishes.

More great tips for the winter can be found here and here. Make sure you read the tips on attic insulation, too.

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