Fall is an excellent time of year. The hot days of summer are winding down, and the leaves are beginning to fall. Fall brings some of our favorite holidays, but it is also the time to start thinking about ensuring that our homes are ready for colder temperatures. Here are some top tips that will keep your home cozy when the winter winds begin to blow.
Clean Your Gutters
Maintaining clean gutters is essential all year. Particularly in the fall because of falling leaves which can clog drains and downspouts. Rain or melting snow, depending on where you live, can cause the leaves to clump together. When the gutters cannot drain, the water has to go somewhere. Eventually, it will end up running down the side of your home.
This runoff can cause the ground around the foundation to erode, and moisture can seep inside. Many people are choosing to eliminate the need to clean gutters several times a year is the installation of leaf guards. These guards are plastic meshes that simply snap into the gutters to keep leaves from piling up and causing problems.
Have Your HVAC System Checked
You should have your heating and air conditioning system checked twice a year in the spring and fall. During these inspections, ensure that professionals change any of the filters your systems use. When these filters are dirty and dusty, your system works harder to maintain the set temperature.
You should also ensure that there are no leaks or loose joints around your home’s air ducts. This measure is essential in keeping the warm air from escaping.
A programmable thermostat can help as well. You can use this gadget to set the temperature a few degrees cooler when no one is home and vice-versa. This scheduling can result in savings on your energy costs.
Turn the Water Heater Down
Water heaters account for about 18% of your energy costs, and setting them to 120 degrees can result in significant savings. Most water heaters produce water at 140 degrees after a technician first installs them. It won’t have to work as hard to maintain 120 degrees compared to 140 degrees. The reduced level of operation will make it last longer before you need a replacement. This lower temperature can also help to reduce the risk of accidental burns for young children and the elderly.
Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction of the blades. Set them to run in a downward clockwise motion during the winter, instead of blowing down or counterclockwise. This motion will pull the cool air up and push the warm air that rises to the ceiling down to keep the room warm. This trick can help to reduce your heating costs as well.
Use Curtains and Blinds To Insulate
If you use heavy curtains or insulated drapes, they can offer the added protection of stopping heat loss. These drapes will reduce any drafts that you’ve noticed around windows in the winter.
Blinds can help as well. You can open both blinds and drapes during the day to let sunlight in, which helps warm rooms. Lower them at dusk and the room will be warmer and it will help save on heating costs.
Insulating your pipes is one of the most important things you can do to keep from paying thousands for repairs. There are various ways to insulate pipes, including insulating foam or tape. When protecting, don’t forget indoor pipes that are not in the home’s heated areas. These often include your garage or crawl space. Frozen pipes can burst and flood your home, causing major damage and costing a lot of money.
Drain Outdoor Hoses and Water Lines
Frozen garden hoses can cause an interior pipe to burst. The water that freezes in the hose will expand, increasing the pressure on the entire plumbing system. To avoid freezing your indoor lines, you should drain and then disconnect all outdoor hoses along with their adjoining faucets. You could also use faucet insulators to protect these areas and prevent indoor water lines from freezing.
Don’t forget sprinkler lines! Blow out these lines early in the season to prevent them from bursting later on. This service will help you avoid replacing them in the summer.
Check for Drafts
Under doors and around windows are the number one places you will feel cold air seep in when the weather turns chilly. In addition to making you feel cold, drafts can add to your heating costs. You can use caulking and weatherstripping to seal cracks around windows and door frames to stop the cold air. You could also place a rolled-up towel in front of your door if you feel cold air coming from underneath. If you use the door regularly, just tuck the towel firmly into place when you are in for the night.
Sweaters for Winter
A heavy sweater can actually make you feel 4 degrees warmer. Even a light sweater with long sleeves will result in added warmth of 2 degrees. Put on your sweater, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees, and you will still be cozy. A couple of throws on the sofa to snuggle under while watching television can help save money on heating costs.
Heating System Upgrade
If your heating system is 10 years old or older, you could be spending a lot more than you realize on heating. An old furnace can cost 50% more to keep your home warm than a new, more energy-efficiency model. It will at least save you from 15% to 20%, which is quite a bit when you consider how high heating costs can be in the winter. Additionally, you reduce the risk of it breaking down in the middle of winter. If this happens, your home will be at risk from the cold temperatures, and since this is a busy time of year for maintenance specialists, you may have trouble finding someone to install a new one.