As the winter season approaches, surely the last thing on your mind is winter home maintenance. You’ve probably already raked up the leaves and put away the patio furniture. As you anticipate that delicious upcoming Thanksgiving meal, what team you’ll cheer on for Monday night football or getting the Christmas lights up before the first snowfall, remember that now is the time to give your home a little TLC to save you money all winter long.
Putting off preventative winter home maintenance is all too easy, yet by making the time for a few easy winterizing activities, you could save up to 25% on your winter utility bills. Below are 3 ways to ensure your home is ready to give back this holiday season with savings going straight back to your wallet.
#1 – Make a point to insulate
Did you know that over 40% of a home’s energy could be lost through poorly insulated ceilings and walls? Older homes in particular can benefit from additional insulation in the attic and exterior walls. A professional can perform an energy audit on your home and make insulation enhancement recommendations that won’t break the bank.
Attic spaces, basements and exterior walls are all notorious for causing heat loss. Cold air can also sneak in around poorly sealed electrical boxes on exterior walls. Even recessed lights can be culprits of heat loss by letting heated air escape through the attic. Enhancing the amount and quality of insulation in these trouble spots can help save on your utility bills and keep you toasty warm all winter long.
#2 – The magic of caulk
Caulking is simple and inexpensive. The simple act of caulking helps seal up all the little cracks and crevices that together, can combine into a surprisingly large amount of space. All these little cracks and gaps can add up to the equivalence of having a window open all winter long.
Did you know, the exterior of windows should be caulked every few years? The type of window and exterior siding you have will determine the type of caulk you should use. Caulking windows is a relatively easy task, although it can be time consuming. Make sure you prepare in advance by removing old caulk and wiping away any dust or debris before getting started with the new caulk. Inside, try caulking those drafty windows by applying caulk to the molding where it meets the wall. An acrylic-latex caulk is perfect for this application thanks to its easy clean up with water.
#3 – Keep the water flowing
Frozen pipes can burst leading to an expensive mess. To avoid frozen pipes keep an eye on the water pressure. Restricted water flow is a sure sign of a frozen pipe. If you notice this problem be sure to call a professional as soon as possible. One trick to minimizing the potential of a frozen pipe is to let water lightly tickle from your faucets during the coldest evenings, as moving water will not freeze.
Outside faucets and hoses also need special attention during the winter. Disconnect garden hoses before the first frost and for extra protection, install an exterior, insulated faucet jacket to the hose bib. These extra steps will help prevent the formation of ice and pressure, which could potentially build up and get into the water lines within your home, a sure way to cause plumbing damage.
Aside from these three easy steps, there are plenty of other ways to save on winter utility bills. A few ideas include installing a programmable thermostat, closing the fireplace damper when not in use, setting your water heater no higher than 125 degrees, installing foam insulation gaskets behind electric outlets and switch plate covers and replacing the furnace filters. Completing even a couple of these tasks will help you sleep better this winter knowing your home will stay a little warmer and you’ll have a little more money in your wallet.