The fall season is upon us. Temperatures are dropping and days are shortening. Before long, many of us will be turning on our heaters after a long while in anticipation of the winter months ahead.
Winter preparations for homeowners and apartment dwellers are as involved or as simple as you wish to make them, with almost every strategy designed to save you cash by seizing advantage of the expected temperature changes. While some strategies save more money, others take more time. Below, therefore, we take a look at 7 ways of preparing your home for the winter as follows:
1. Clean your baseboard heaters and air vents
Depending on the heating present in your home/apartment, you either have baseboard heaters or air vents. In both instances, careful cleaning of either of these before the onset of winter can save you a lot financially.
For baseboard heaters, simply wipe them and remove any accumulated dust, especially on the inside and you are guaranteed to have them running much more efficiently. Since most baseboard heaters come with a removable front, take this off and thoroughly but gently clean the inside. For those with air vents, remove their grates and wipe off all debris and dust within reach as this stuff is what often slows down airflow.
2. Replace weather stripping around doors
If you run your hands around an outward-facing door’s edges on a cool day and experience the resultant cool air flow from the outside, then you are looking at an airflow problem and one that is likely to cost you money especially during the winter period. Even if the air inside your apartment/home is heated, the warm air will inevitably flow outside through the door’s edges before being replaced by cold air from outside which you then have to heat again. The result: heating costs will definitely go up.
The solution to this problem is to install strips around external door edges. And since most stores sell weather stripping kits, the actual installation is quite easy. Just close the affected door(s) and hold the weather strips in place before attaching them- either by hammering them in with nails or by some other attachment method. Doing this should prevent warm air from exiting your home during the winter thus dramatically cutting down your energy bill.
3. Seal any rooms not in use
If you have rooms that are irregularly used or unused in your home/apartment, seal these off well in advance of the winter. Simply close any vents, turn off baseboard heaters, and put a towel or blanket along the door’s bottom in order to minimize airflow. In case you need to utilize the room(s) for any activity during the winter, you can undo the foregoing steps.
If unused rooms become cold, that is a welcome thing as the cooler unused rooms are, the less cash you will have spent heating them. Over the winter months, these savings on heating can tally up quite nicely.
4. Reverse ceiling fan direction
In winter, you want your ceiling fans pushing hot air downwards so ensure that they are doing this well by standing underneath. On most fans, there is a switch that reverses blade direction so just turn on this switch. When this is done correctly, warm air should be pressed downwards from the ceiling thus keeping warm air inside your house for longer periods which in turn should reduce the pressure on your baseboard heater or furnace.
5. Reprogram your thermostat or install a programmable one
Ideally, during the cold weather, you will want to lower your home’s temperature while you are sleeping or no one is present. For instance, you may want your home temperature to drop between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. every night time when people are asleep or between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays when dwellers are either at work or school. This way, you will not be paying for your heater/furnace to be on while people are sleeping or not at home therefore reducing your energy costs.
As much as you may remember to adjust your thermostat several times during the duration of the day, a programmable one should handle these adjustments automatically. Simply program it so that no heater/furnace is running during the aforementioned hours, or just running enough to keep your home’s temperature at an appropriate level. That way, your heater stands to run less especially during those specified time periods, drastically cutting your energy costs.
6. Install insulated windows
Insulated windows are beneficial in two ways: they create a warmer window surface while on the inside and prevent heat from escaping outside. This makes insulated windows much less drafty and prone to condensation problems, the latter of which occurs when warm, moist inside air comes into contact with a cold surface. The best insulated windows usually have a high R-factor (which measures heat transfer resistance) and a low U-factor (which measures insulation levels). It is advisable to consider these measurements for the entire window as the frames and edges of a window transfer more heat, so some window manufacturers list ‘center window’ ratings of their windows which can be somewhat misleading.
7. Winterize air conditioners and water lines
When water freezes and then expands, it can result in problems in many of your home’s water-bearing systems. The solution, however, is fairly simple: switch off the water shut-off valve of your air conditioner (if it has one) before draining its pipes and hoses and making sure that no water has pooled inside the equipment. For those with window units, remove these for the winter months before sealing the window(s) at the edges. Lastly, turn off outside spigots and ensure that hoses are drained before being stored.
Winter places heavy demands on our homes, as well as on homeowners who wish to keep their houses warm without the additional burden of high energy bills. In preparation for the cold months ahead, homeowners should thus winterize their homes both on the inside and outside by following the above laid out essential measures. Almost anyone can take these seven simple steps, with each process almost guaranteed to lower your energy costs over the winter.