Ready or not, it’s time to get ready for colder weather, snow and, of course, higher heating costs.
While a rise in winter heating bills is always expected, there are some simple and affordable things you can do to help keep costs under control. The secret is to act now, before the cold weather strikes. Here are some practical tips to help get your home in winter-ready condition.
1. Upgrade your thermostat
Programmable thermostats, which now run as little as $25, allow you to keep your home cooler when you’re sleeping or not home. The EPA states that installing a programmable thermostat can save homeowners anywhere from 10 to 30% on the space heating and cooling portion of their energy bills.
2. Seal off any cracks or gaps
Yes, we’re channeling Captain Obvious here, but stopping cold air from entering a heated home is maybe the simplest way to reduce heating costs. Start by replacing worn weather stripping, adjusting door thresholds, and sealing cracks around doors, windows and electrical. Also remember to insulate around your attic trap, and, when not in use, keep your fireplace damper closed.
3. Clear the area around registers and vents
If your heating vents are blocked by rugs, furniture, etc., heated air will not circulate properly. Much like blocking a heat register, blocking an air return vent restricts the air flow in your home. Blocking air return vents causes your system to work harder, as there is less air flow to move the air back to the furnace. This continued strain on the HVAC system can lead to a decrease in performance and more repairs down the road.
4. Reverse your ceiling fans
Ceiling fans aren’t just for cooling off in the summer, they help keep your home warm in the winter, too. When the warm air from your heating system rises, it gets trapped near the ceiling. Once the heat kicks on, you’ll want to change the direction of the blade rotation to clockwise. By setting your ceiling fan to rotate slowly in a clockwise fashion, the air will circulate up and force warm air downward toward your living space.
5. Hang some insulated curtains
Insulated curtains can help reduce drafts and heat loss. Insulated or not, you should also make sure to use your curtains wisely. Open blinds and curtains during the day to let the sun naturally warm your house, then make sure and close them at night to help the room retain heat. Who knew there was a strategy for curtains?
6. Get your furnace or boiler a checkup
Make a maintenance appointment with a licensed HVAC technician to have your heating system professionally serviced and cleaned. Not only will annual maintenance appointments extend the life of your system, they can keep your manufacturer’s warranty valid and can help pinpoint any problems that might present future safety hazards. It’s also a great time to change the filter, if applicable.
7. Test your carbon monoxide detectors
Here’s another important safety tip to act on prior to each heating season. Enclosed homes present a much larger hazard when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning. Use the “test” button to make sure each detector in your home is working. Install fresh batteries or replace the unit, as necessary.
8. Check your ductwork for air leaks
Heating ducts are oftentimes out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but there’s plenty of reason to take a closer look at your home’s ductwork at least once a year. The U.S. Department of Energy states that a home with central heating can lose about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system. Make sure your ducts are in order by properly sealing and insulating them.
9. Roll out some insulation
While it’s not quite as fun as everyone’s favorite polka song, adding insulation can provide significant savings and cut down on drafty spots in your home. For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. Check insulation levels in the attic, and along exterior/basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.
10. Schedule a propane tank fill
You didn’t really think we were going to leave this out, did you? Scheduling a tank fill before the cold weather arrives will provide you with faster service and an easy item to check off your winterization checklist. Based on years of history, we can tell you that once the first cold snap arrives, everyone remembers that they need a fill. Why not head into the winter with a full tank and some added peace of mind? Placing an order has never been easier with Crystal Flash’s new customer portal.
BONUS TIPS FOR SNOWBIRDS
If you are getting ready to leave your northern home for a sunnier winter elsewhere, check out this article for some tips on getting your summer home prepped so you can safely leave it behind for the winter.