The leaves are beginning to turn and it’s time to winterize your home. When you must take a two liter bottle of warm water out with you to rinse the windshield before you can see where you’re going, it’s time to winterize your home and it’s time to park your car in the garage. I always preferred the bottle of warm water over starting the car and letting it warm up for hours.
I just don’t feel right letting the car idle that long, using all that gas and getting zero miles-per-gallon, when a little warm water will do the job. Here are five improvements that will help winterize your home against the cold weather.
1. Close the foundation vents.
Keep the cold wind from winterizing your floor. Remember the schedule for foundation vents, open in spring, closed in fall. Let the underfloor area breath through the summers warmer months and dry out, then close the vents in the fall to keep the cold air from freezing your feet.
I have the plastic, rectangular vents at my place. The vents have the plastic flaps that open and close. With the passing of time, some of the flaps will no-longer stay closed, so I have purchased the styrofoam vent covers and placed those in front of the flimsy plastic ones. Now the flaps are held closed and I have double, insulated protection against the cold.
The styrofoam vent covers can be easily trimmed to fit most vent openings.
2. Service the heating system.
No matter what type of heating system you’ll be relying on this winter (furnace, wood stove, boiler, heat pump, etc.), it’s important to have your system cleaned and serviced.
Of special note is the air conditioner heat ex-changer. If you have central air conditioning or a heat pump, somewhere in your duct system near the furnace is the heat ex-changer that is connected to your air conditioner or heat pump. The heat ex-changer looks like your cars radiator. During the summer it has all that cool air flowing through it along with the all the dust, particles, animal hair, Q-tips, and anything else you can’t find.
Open up the heat duct and gentle vacuum and clean the heat ex-changer. All your warm air that heats your home also must go through this radiator, remember, if the radiators plugged up, the car overheats because not enough air can pass through. If the warm air can’t pass through the heat ex-changer, your feet stay cold and your utility bill heats up.
3. Invest in the attic.
Don’t allow the warm air that you have already paid for leak and radiate up through the ceiling. Attic or ceiling insulation is the most cost effect measure you can treat yourself to that will save energy and keep your home more comfortable. Remember, first air seal the attic floor and then insulate. How much insulation should you have in your attic? Simply, the more the merrier.
To see if you qualify for local or State incentives to help pay for all that insulation, go to www.actonenergy.com
4. Windows and Doors.
The kids have been opening windows and running in and out the doors all summer. There is a pretty good chance that the windows are not shut all the way and the weatherstripping in the doors have been damaged.
Check the windows and see that they are closed properly and latched. Latching a window will help the weatherstripping do it’s job. If you have a problem window that has damaged weatherstripping, the weatherstripping can be replaced. You don’t have to replace the whole window just because the weatherstripping is hanging out.
5. Remove the window air conditioner.
Not everybody can have central air conditioning. For many of us, the Amana A.C. unit sitting in the family room window is as good as it gets. So what happens when the snow starts to pile up on the backside of the Amana? The air conditioner is an open tunnel with a bunch of fins in it. Even when the fan is not on, the air can pass through the unit almost unrestricted. The window air conditioner needs to be removed from the window and the window closed and latched.
Some homeowners and builders get fancy and install a window air conditioner straight through the wall. If you remove the A.C unit you would have a big hole in the wall. In this situation, you can build a box that just fits over the back of the air conditioner and seals against the outside wall. This protects the back of the unit and keeps air from leaking through it. Just remember to remove the box before you operate the A.C. next year, you’ll wonder why it doesn’t seem to work real well.
So, when your finished racking the leaves and putting the lawnmower away, it is probably a good time to winterize your home. I hope these five weatherization tips will help you stay warmer, more comfortable, and will help to control your power bill.
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