With the temperatures dropping fast, it’s time for you to start thinking about winterizing your home. A few steps can help your home stay energy efficient without sacrificing your family’s comfort. Most of these things can be done in a day, so take some time this week to check these off of your to-do list.
1. Check the filter in your furnace.
It’s good to change your furnace filters about every two months. The cheaper filters may need to be replaced monthly, while a heavy duty filter from 3M might last up to 3 months before it needs to be replaced. As dust and gunk collect on the filter, it reduces the efficiency of the heater, which is why it’s so important to keep the filters clean. You might even look into washable furnace filters that can simply be washed every month. You can find them for about $20 at Sears or Amazon.
2. Trim nearby trees.
Overhanging trees near your house can be dangerous and cause expensive damage if a snow or ice storm happens suddenly. Overgrown branches are liable to break with the weight of snow or ice and can leave you cleaning up a big mess if it damages your house or car. Trim back trees while it’s still a little warm out, and you’ll save yourself the frustration and expense of cleaning up a bigger mess later.
3. Hit the switch on your ceiling fan.
Sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget. Most ceiling fans are made to go in reverse by flipping a switch on the top of the fan. By reversing the direction of your fan blades, you’ll push the hot air downward. Since heat rises, it’s good to circulate the air by turning on your fan every once in a while so that you don’t waste money by heating the top half of your rooms all day.
4. Insulate pipes, doors, and windows.
It’s worth looking over your pipes to make sure they are well insulated. You especially want to insulate pipes located on the outer walls of your house. Foam insulation can be found at Home Depot or your local hardware store for a few dollars and could end up saving you thousands. The last thing you want is for a pipe to freeze and burst, causing your basement to flood. The repair costs for water damage can be extremely high.
Another way to cut back on energy costs is to insulate your doors and windows. Duct Tape sells a plastic sealant that creates an air barrier on your window, which keeps the warm air from escaping as fast. We use this in our home and notice a substantial difference in draftiness for the rooms that have the plastic installed.
5. Test and replace safety alarm batteries.
This is another simple, but crucial step for winterizing your home. It’s good to replace the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector every six months, so make it a habit to put fresh batteries in these detectors every December. While you’re at it, check your fire extinguisher’s date to make sure it’s still good. Don’t have a fire extinguisher? You can pick up one from WalMart for $20.
6. Check for leaky pipes.
Before the freeze hits, make sure you turn off the water for outside spigots. You don’t want them to leak during the winter and cause the pipes to crack. You can also buy foam insulators for outside faucets that help to keep the pipes from freezing.
7. Prep the snowblower and shovels.
Who enjoys standing in the cold trying to start a snowblower that has been sitting for the last year? Not me. Take a few minutes to prep the snowblower by cleaning the filter, changing the oil, and letting the old gas run out of it (something you should have done before putting it away last year). Make sure your shovels are in good shape and get that bucket of salt ready. You never know when you’re going to need it!
How else do you get ready for Old Man Winter?
Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.