With the change of seasons comes the time when those dreaded chores need to be done—closing up the pool, putting away the patio furniture, and making sure your home's heating system is ready to go. Of course, as you brace for that first cold night, you probably also worry about the high heating bills that are headed your way.
The good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce those energy costs while improving comfort. Let's start at the top and work our way down:
Before those winter storms hit, you'll want to make sure your roof is sound. Check for loose or missing shingles where water can leak in. Any water intrusion will saturate insulation, make it less efficient for preventing heat and cool air loss, and cost you more in energy bills. Depending on the type and age of your shingles, it may be time for a complete roof replacement or at least a shingle repair. Consult with a handyman for minor projects or a professional roofing contractor for a major overhaul.
Attic and Walls
As your home ages, the insulation in your attic and walls will settle and the R-value will be affected. An insulation upgrade will help save hundreds of dollars in heating and cooling costs. You can add extra layers of fiberglass insulation across the ceiling joists in your attic or rent a insulation blower from a local hardware store to add cellulose insulation into the walls.
As you might imagine, your windows can be a major source of air leaks. There are a few things you can do to improve window efficiency and comfort:
- Fill gaps around windows with insulation.
- Re-glaze windows with broken glass seals.
- Add weatherstripping and caulk the exterior of your windows.
- Close storm windows or cover the inside with plastic film.
- Hang insulated draperies or blinds.
If your windows are beyond repair, hiring a contractor to replace them with energy-efficient units (Low-E glass, double- or triple-pane, gas-filled glass) will save you thousands in heating and cooling costs. New Energy Star windows have a built-in low U-factor for better thermal resistance in the winter.
Reduce drafts further by sealing air leaks around doors with new weatherstripping. There are several choices available like foam-type tape, adhesive-backed felt, tubular (rubber, vinyl, or silicone.) Make sure you also caulk any gaps you find along the trim and siding. Add a weather-resistant door sweep to maintain a tight seal all the way around the door.
You don't want to forget the most-important component in your house, the HVAC system. Dust and grime build-up in the ductwork can make your furnace work harder, reduce air quality, and cost you more than it should. Anything less than 15 years old can be professionally cleaned to improve efficiency. Don't forget to replace the furnace filter to improve air quality and keep those dust bunnies at bay. Older units can be replaced with energy-efficient models that can save you up to 50% off your heating and cooling bills.
You'll be amazed to see just how high-tech thermostats have become. At minimum, you should consider replacing your old analog unit with a digital, programmable model. It will allow you to set a timer to reduce the temperature when you're away from home or at night. For maximum efficiency, change to a new Wi-Fi thermostat. An app for your Smartphone will allow you to adjust the settings remotely and even adjust the temperature to combat drafty areas and increase comfort.
Don't forget about your older water heater. It can be a major draw on energy use. Add a blanket to keep the heat in and it won't have to reheat the water as often. Tanks older than 10 years should be replaced with a more efficient or tankless model that only heats water when you need it.
Let Puls Help Get Your Home Ready for Winter
Need your furnace filter changed or your thermostat upgraded but not comfortable doing the work yourself? Puls offers handyman services that can take care of all your winterization needs. All appointments can be made online with convenient scheduling options.
Reduce energy costs, improve comfort, and make sure you're prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. Schedule an appointment today with a Puls professional you can trust to do the job right.