If you are looking to winterize your house, now is the time – and we have a few tips to help you prepare for the colder days ahead.
It seems like just the other day that we were preparing for the fall, but that’s the way it goes. One week temperatures are in the 90s, the next they are in the 60s. It won’t be long before they are in the 40s and heading down. Many places recorded record amounts of snowfall in 2016 and 2017, and there’s a very good chance that we’ll see that pattern repeat in the coming year.
If your house is in need of some winterization, now is the time to do it. When it comes to your home, preventative maintenance is always going to save you money in the future. Your first step should be to contact a contractor like Fleschner Construction and set up an inspection, but in the meantime, here are a few quick and easy things you can do to make your house more winter-friendly.
Prepare Your HVAC
We’ve mentioned this in the past, but now is the time to double check your HVAC system, specifically your heater. If you need a replacement, it’s better to do it now than in the dead of winter. If you’re confident in your furnace, make sure it is operating at its full potential. HVACs – like most complex equipment – need regular maintenance. Speak to a professional and have them come check your HVAC system now before they get too busy during the winter months.
While there are a few things that should be left to the professionals, there are some simple things you can and should do on your own.
To begin with, clean your furnace filters and replace them if needed. You may also want to consider switching your filter altogether. Unless you have changed it recently, you are probably using a disposable fiberglass filter. They may seem cost effective but they need to be changed regularly, and they tend to trap somewhere between 10 to 40-percent of debris at best. That’s not great.
One alternative is a permanent electrostatic filter that traps nearly 90-percent of debris. They can be expensive, but they are also good for your health as they trap bacteria and mold as well as other forms of debris. And if health is your primary concern (if someone in your home has respiratory issues, for example), you may want to consider a HEPA filter that – according to Federal guidelines – must remove 99.97-percent of particles to earn the HEPA classification.
You’ll be spending a lot of time indoors when the weather shifts, so this might be a good upgrade. Just make sure you buy real HEPA filters and not “HEPA-like” filters, which are not subject to the same stringent guidelines.
Seal Your House
This is a good tip regardless of what time of year it is, but you should take the time to inspect your house and seal any holes or cracks you come across. If they are significant, you may need professional help, but if they are small enough you can typically seal them with caulk or another sealant.
If you have large windows, consider adding a plastic sheet over it. You can find sheets of plastic made specifically to insulate windows at any hardware store. They only cost a few dollars, and they can make a huge difference for people that have large, single pane windows. Add weatherstripping to doors and windows if needed while you’re at it.
You should also double check to make sure there are no significant gaps in your doorways. Not only will insects crawl in, heat will zoom out. If you need a quick fix, simply jam an old towel in any gaps – although you should have someone address this at some point and seek a permanent fix.
While it might make sense to only run your heater when you are home, it’s actually a little easier on the furnace (and your monthly bill) to keep your house at a moderate temperature all day rather than having to blast the furnace on high to warm things up.
You can, of course, do this manually, but unless you know your schedule precisely, it may be easier to look into a programmable thermostat. Set it for a low temp during the day, just enough to make sure if the temp drops to a certain point the heater will kick on, then have it gradually increase as the day grows colder. Then set it to warm the place to a temperature you’re comfortable with before you get home so you don’t have to kick it on full when you walk in the door.
A programmable thermostat will also help to save a bit of money, as you’ll never forget to turn it down when you leave for the day.
If you have ceiling fans, make sure you reverse their motion as well. A counterclockwise rotation makes things cooler, clockwise makes it warmer.
Winterize Your House Pipes and Lines
When it starts to get really cold, make sure your hoses are disconnected, all water has been drained from them, the exterior water spigots are turned off. You may also want to put a cap on the spigots, which you can pick up at a hardware store for just a few dollars.
While you’re at it, you should check to see if there are any pipes that are exposed to extreme temperatures – in a crawlspace under your house or outside, for example. If so, you should invest in some form of insulation. If you need something quick, pick up some foam tape and foam pipe covers. Ultimately though, if this is a major issue you should talk to a professional.
Talk to a Professional
While the tips listed above are quick and easy fixes, ultimately it will save you hassle and money to seek a permanent fix. Plastic layers are a great way to insulate windows in a pinch, but they are no substitute for new windows, designed to protect and insulate your house. The same goes for storm doors and modern HVAC systems.
While that might seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to all be done at once. Talk to a professional and ask them to inspect your house, then give you a list of things that can be done in order of importance. Check them off over months or even years.
Then, when the temperatures drop and the weather outside is foreboding, you can watch from your warm insulated house and be glad that you were prepared.