Winter is in full swing, with many parts of the country experiencing frigid temperatures, snow, and ice. Despite the cold, however, there are plenty of steps that homeowners can take to prepare their homes for the worst of the winter season — even starting right now.
Part of staying warm in the winter has to do with the house itself. When evaluating a home’s winter preparedness, it’s best to think from top to bottom — the roof all the way to the basement.
The first step is checking the insulation in the attic. Because heat loss can occur if a roof isn’t properly insulated, homeowners should make sure they are using the minimum R-value insulation for their climate (e.g. R-49 in Northern states).
Windows should be next on the checklist. Although they can provide daylight, ventilation, and heat from the sun, they can also let heat out during the winter and potentially raise a heating bill by as much as 10% to 25%.
There are a few options that homeowners can use to combat this heat loss. One would be to install new windows entirely, but another may involve glass replacement instead.
Most high-efficiency windows are at least double paned and have what is known as low emissivity, or low-e. This advanced window coating helps homes retain their heat in the cold months and keep it out in the summer, and it can also protect carpets and furniture from discoloration due to ultraviolet sunlight.
If replacing the windows or window glass isn’t an option, homeowners can also use a window-insulating kit. These kits contain a clear plastic film that can help reduce drafts and save energy.
Homeowners should also check the seals around windows and other “gaps” in the home, such as those around pipes, wires, TV cables and bathroom and dryer vents. These can easily be filled with a foam sealant spray.
Finally, it may be necessary for some homeowners to take a look at their furnaces. Getting an inspection on an HVAC unit is a must, especially if that furnace is more than a few years old.
Now may also be the perfect time to upgrade to an Energy Star model, which will not only help save money on a heating bill but also gives homeowners a tax advantage backed by a government program, too.
Taking care of the furnace by changing the filters regularly will let homeowners get the most out of their heating. When the furnace is in good working order, most homeowners won’t need to blast the heat to stay warm.
While home, most people can get away with setting the temperature at 68 degrees. Lowering that temperature while sleeping or away from home will save on a heating bill; this can be done manually or by using a programmable thermostat that will turn the heat down automatically when it’s not needed.
Taking these simple steps to prepare for winter will ensure a lower heating bill and more comfort during the coldest months of the year.