As we are faced with the crisp morning air and waking up to our homes being cooler, we are also faced with the inevitable question… do I turn on the heat just to take the chill off?
This is a good indication that it is time to prepare our homes for the winter season! Here are some helpful hints to get you started on your way to lowering your utility bills and protecting your investment.
1) Get your ducts in a row: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of its heating air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well connected and insulated. Have your heating system cleaned by a professional technician this will eliminate any chances of any deadly carbon monoxide from coming into your home. A clean well maintained system will save you money on fuel and prolong the furnace life. This can usually be done for around $100.
2) Seal all cracks around doors and windows. For about $4 per window you can get the window seal packages that simply require a blow dryer. (It is not the most attractive approach but can do the trick. Other options would include GE’s Silicone II Window and Door product. $6.
3) Be sure to clean out gutters of all leaves and debris. This will prevent very costly ice dams.
4) Reverse your ceiling fan so the fan’s blades are in a clockwise direction, remembering heat rises it will push down the hot air into the room. This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.
5) Turn off all exterior faucets. Drain all pipes, blow out hoses and store in dry place. Turn off main shut-off valves if they exist. This will prevent any water build up and freeze that may cause very costly bursts to the pipes.
6) Mow your leaves instead of raking them. Mow them when they are dry they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter. Be sure to swap your cutting blade for a mulching blade (about $15 to $20). For more information, see “Turn Over A New Leaf/Mulching Leaves in Place.”
7) Be sure to clean your chimney prior to the heating season. This will prevent any chimney fires.
8) Add insulation to attic if needed! Ideally you should have 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Here is the rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation: “If you go in the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don’t have enough, because on average a ceiling joist is at most 10 or 11 inches.” A related tip: If you’re layering insulation atop other insulation, don’t use the kind that has “kraft face” finish (i.e., paper backing). It acts as a vapor barrier, and therefore can cause moisture problems in the insulation.
9) Wrap your pipes… Burst pipes can be a nightmare! Look for any pipes that pass through unheated spaces such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores.
10) If you don’t have carbon-monoxide detectors, be sure to install one in your home. They can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot for approximately $40.
For more information on how to save money and lower your energy bills visit www.efficiencymaine.com. Eligible homes can receive as much as $1,500 in incentives. For more information on energy audits you can also contact Ecovise at www.ecoviseme.com.
Have a safe and affordable season!