Your home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make, so why not protect it at all costs!! You can start by winterizing your home. In just a few easy steps, not only can you save yourself money but also protect your home.
1) Change Furnace Filters – Your filters should be changed once a month. A good way to remember to do it, is set a reminder, every time you pay the mortgage, change the filter. An even better idea is to buy a permanent filter. Permanent filters will cost more initially, but over time they will save you money and may even help your family to combat illnesses. Permanent, electrostatic filters trap appx 88% of home air pollutants and help control bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold.
2) Stop Draft(s) – If you find you have doors or windows letting in cold or even hot air during the summer, you can fix it without it costing you a dime! Use the old school remedy by putting a rolled up towel at the door/window. You can actually use any kind of material to stop the unwanted air from coming in. Also, make sure the window seals are in good condition. If they are damaged, you may be able to repair yourself.
3) Use Weather-strips and Caulking – Like above, if you find that you have drafty windows, you may be able to fix them easily with caulk or weather strips. If you are unsure that a draft is present, do an incense test. Make sure to remove curtains and any flammable material first! Then take a lit incense stick and move it around the window and to see if a breeze blows the smoke, if so, you definitely have a draft. You can also do this test with a candle, but an incense stick may be safer, due to the fact, there is no flame. Use weather strips or caulk at the places you noticed the draft coming in.
4) Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines – This one is pretty easy too. Make sure you drain all hoses and a/c pipes. Also, check that you don’t have any water pooled in your equipment. Inspecting these items in the winter, will also help you save money during the summer, so it’s a win/win situation. All exterior water spigots need to be turned off and checked for leaks as well. If you find that you need a new air conditioner, there may be a federal government program in your area that will actually reimburse you a certain percentage of the cost for a new energy saving unit. If you don’t know how to drain the a/c pipes or hoses, check online for demonstrations, especially on sites like YouTube.
5) Turn Down the Temperature on the Water Heater – I know, you’re probably thinking, it’s freezing, why would I turn down the water heater…well, most water heaters are set to 140 degrees F when they are installed, but you normally don’t need it to be that high. If you lower the water heater to 120 degrees F, or even lower if you possible, you will actually reduce your water heating costs by 6 – 10%. Also, once again, if you find you need a new water heater, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit. Ask your accountant or check government websites for more info on this.
6) Get a Tune Up! – Did you know that just like your car needs tune-ups, your heating system for your home does too?! Many utility companies offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians. If you are in need of a checkup, make sure to call early in the season. As you can imagine, everyone will be calling to get their furnaces, etc checked, so the earlier you call, the more likely you are to get an appointment quick.
7) And finally, Install Storm Doors and Windows – Depending on where you live, if the climate is pretty severe in the winter, installing storm windows and doors may save you a lot of money and help to keep your family healthy. Storm windows/doors will prevent cold air from getting in. They may be cumbersome to install, but it will be well worth it to your pocketbook and your well-being.
All of these simple solutions can protect your home throughout the winter and some may even help during the summer. Look online for more tips and tricks to protect your home. Also, remember to check your local government websites for tax credits that are applicable when making your home more energy efficient.
Written by Roxy McDonald
Elite Real Estate Realtor