With chillier weather slowly setting in, it’s time to consider the best ways to get your home winter-ready. An overall check of your home is beneficial for a number of reasons – it helps you identify ways to potentially save money on your energy bills, it gives you a chance to identify any maintenance issues that need to be dealt with immediately, and it ensures that your indoor environment will be comfortable on those especially brisk days.
Getting your home ready for cooler weather doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, especially if you get in the habit of checking the same areas year after year. Here are the top tasks you should complete to make sure your home stays warm and your heating bills stay low.
Inspect Windows & Doors
Windows and doors are common sources for drafts, which means that homeowners should focus on reducing heat loss in these areas for maximum energy savings. Take the time to do a visual check to make sure your windows and doors are in good condition and that there is no warping of the overall frame. For those with wooden windows and doors, make sure that the area is free of rot.
If you do find areas on your windows or doors that have draft issues, weather stripping or caulk might fix the problem quickly. If that doesn’t do the trick, then it may be time to consider replacing doors and windows with more energy-efficient options. It’s a pricey investment, but is worthwhile if it means keeping your home comfortable and energy costs down.
Clean The Chimney
If you are planning on using your fireplace this winter, a yearly cleaning and check of your chimney is a must. Creosote is a by-product produced when burning wood in your fireplace – it can build up in your chimney over time and cause a fire hazard.
A yearly cleaning and inspection will help to eliminate any fire risk, while giving a professional the chance to check your flue and damper. Over time, fireplace dampers can warp, which can cause drafts. A damper that fits properly will help ensure that warm air stays where it belongs…in your home.
Ensure Proper Drainage
Winter precipitation can cause all sorts of issues if it isn’t draining away from your home properly. In order to prevent problems like mold, mildew, and rot that can affect your indoor air quality, double check that your gutters are clear and that water is not pooling near the foundation of your home or around the outdoor components of your HVAC system.
During winter storms, branches near your home, power lines, or outdoor appliances can pose safety hazards. Take the time to do an inspection of your trees, and make sure that any large dead or unstable branches that could be problematic are removed. Plus, your trees will be happier to have the dead weight gone come spring!
Remove Outdoor Debris
Debris such as dead leaves, berries, and pine needles can wreak havoc on HVAC systems, not to mention that they clog gutters and can create moisture traps if they gather near your foundation. Clearing the area around your home and outdoor appliances of this debris will help prevent maintenance issues and ensure that your HVAC system is in working order all season long.
Get An HVAC Checkup
If you didn’t have your bi-annual HVAC check in the fall, it’s not too late! A winter check allows an HVAC professional to take a look at your system, identify any small problems before they turn into large issues, and offer insight into any improvements that could help increase HVAC efficiency over the long run.
Start With A Fresh Filter
Because we tend to keep our homes closed up during this time, the winter months can be especially bad when it comes to indoor air quality. If you have been lax in doing a monthly check of your HVAC filters, now is the time to say out with the old, in with the new! A clean air filter will collect dust, dirt and dander, allowing you to breathe easier while indoors.
Do A Duct Check
If you have already had an HVAC inspection in the fall, then winter is the time to do a quick check of your ductwork, just to make sure that no problems have cropped up in the past few months. In the event that you find a small puncture or hole, special sealants available at your local hardware store can be used as a temporary fix. Don’t use duct tape – despite the name, it does a horrible job of sealing duct punctures.
Clear Your Vents
To ensure optimal heating in your home during the winter months, the air coming from your HVAC system has to be able to freely move through your house. That means double-checking that all of your vents are opened and free from blockage by furniture, lighting fixtures, appliances, or holiday decorations.
Don’t fall for the myth that closed vents will redirect more heat to other parts of your home. Heating systems are designed with your whole house in mind, and by closing vents you can actually reduce their overall efficiency.
Switch Fan Direction
One of the easiest ways to help keep your home warmer in winter is to switch the direction of your ceiling fans to a clockwise rotation. This is easy to do – most ceiling fans have a switch located on the outside of the motor that changes the direction of the blades. When the fan spins in a clockwise direction, it pulls air down from the ceiling. Warm air rises, so the spinning fan helps to redistribute the air down to floor level, which is especially useful in rooms that have high ceilings.
Check Fire Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Doing a double check of these safety devices is a good idea. The risk for fires and carbon monoxide poisoning tends to increase during the winter months, so making sure that your detectors are in good working order is a great way to protect your home and family.