10 Winter Do’s & Don’ts for Your Home

The winter presents challenges to the home owner. It’s so important to keep the house warm, comfortable and as energy-efficient as possible. There are many things which can be done to the outside and the inside of any home to ensure a safe, secure and comfortable winter season.

One: In the fall, inspect the roof.

The home owner can look at his roof from the ground by using binoculars. Inspect for curling, loose or missing shingles. Look at the chimney flashing to see if it is intact. Look for moss or mold.  These items indicate problems with the integrity of the roof and need repair or replacement.

Two: Clean the gutters.

Removing leaves and other debris from the gutter and down spouts avoids accumulation of ice and snow which create ice dams at the roof’s edge. Dams force snow and water back up under shingles causing damage to the sheathing. Keep leaves away from the gutters by trimming your trees back at least 3 feet from your house.  With any work involving climbing a ladder, don’t attempt it if you are not capable.  Instead, enlist the help of a professional.

Three: Use caulking and weather stripping.

According to the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), the average American home has an annual energy bill of $2,100. To reduce that, caulk the air cracks around stationary house components such as door frames and base boards, and install weather stripping around windows, storm doors and sliders. You will lose less heat, and nasty drafts will be eliminated.

Four: Add insulation to the attic and crawl spaces.

A minimum of 12 inches of fiber glass insulation rolled into an attic makes for better energy usage. It keeps heat inside where it belongs.

Five: Don’t neglect your furnace.

Don’t wait until winter to discover that your furnace is working poorly, or not at all.  In the fall, contact a reputable HVAC company for an inspection of:

•    fan and motor
•    blower
•    gas pipes
•    CO emissions

The technician should clean the unit and change the air filter. A furnace tune-up costs around $100 but is worth the money to make sure the unit will heat your home efficiently, safely and economically. If you need to replace your furnace, find out before the cold weather hits.

Six: Inspect and clean air ducts.

Dirty air ducts can affect furnace efficiency. Accumulated dust, debris, animal dander and other indoor debris hurt air quality. Have a specialist clean your ducts and check for air leaks at the seams. Have cracks sealed, and consider adding insulation to the ducts.

Seven: Use a space heater carefully.

A space heater can alleviate spot heating problems.  Use one for a cold, out of the way area or room addition. Don’t leave it unattended, and don’t put it near upholstered furniture or drapes which easily catch fire. Place it on a level floor to avoid tipping.

Eight: Install a programmable thermostat.

Keep your home cozy and snug when you are using it, and turn the temperature down when you are out of the house or sleeping. A programmable thermostat enables you to choose the time and temperature setting right for you and you will see a reduction in your winter energy usage.

Nine: Close the fireplace flu.

A blazing fire in the hearth is great, but it actually pulls air from other parts of the house up and out of the chimney. Install glass fire place doors to avoid this, and close the flu when you are not using the fireplace.

Ten: Use your ceiling fans.

It sounds odd, but moving fan blades in the reverse setting (clockwise) can keep warm air down near the floor. This is helpful in rooms with high ceilings. Set the fan at the slowest speed.

Some thoughtful use of these tips before winter sets in should help you have a more pleasant and energy-sparing home environment.