Winterizing Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
With the colder months here many Americans are looking for ways to save money on the rising cost of heating their homes. In addition, this is also the time of year when homeowners may want to take a look at some unwanted visitors who can do some real damage to areas of the home you may never see.
Sealing Up and Insulating Your Home
The main goal of sealing up and insulating your home is simple – keep the warm air in and the cold air out! In the average home, if you added up all the cracks and gaps, the area would be approximately three square feet! Just imagine the amount of cold air that can come in through those spaces and of course the amount of warm air that can sneak out. Check out the following areas where the biggest losses can occur:
Since warm air rises, it goes without saying that if you don’t have enough insulation in the attic, your heating bills are quite literally going through the roof. One of the most common and effective ways of saving heat is by making sure you have enough. If you’re not sure, go in your attic and see if the ceiling joists are visible. If they are, you need more. Also, different areas of the country require differing R-values of insulation, which translates into a thickness of the insulation. Check with your local home center, and they will be able to advise you on the recommended R-value for your area.
Sealing Up Cracks
Cracks around windows, on perimeter walls and at electrical outlets that are located on an exterior wall can create a tremendous leak of warm air out and cold air in. Caulk any gaps and seal up cracks and holes to provide a more airtight envelope around your home. Also, check your weather stripping, and replace or adjust any that is worn or doesn’t fit tightly.
While this is a time of year that many homeowners choose to replace old windows that rattle and the wind blows right through, purchasing new insulated glass windows is expensive and requires some planning. A terrific interim solution is to install window insulation kits that contain plastic sheeting to cover the window. They are very easy to install, can completely insulate the window, and costs only about $3 per window.
In the summer the unwanted guests include ants and in-laws while in the winter it’s rodents and in-laws, but all year long the worst uninvited guests are termites. This is an excellent time of year to have an annual termite inspection to make sure that, if any termites are present, they are eliminated COMPLETELY. According to the National Pest Management Association, damage caused by termites is upwards of two billion dollars.
Getting the Most of Your Heating System
Now that you have insulated your home and made sure that there are no critters gnawing away at your foundation, the next step is to make sure you are getting the best possible performance from your current heating system. One of the first steps is to have your heating system serviced by a professional to make sure it is operating at maximum efficiency. It is also a good idea to change your air filter at least once a month.
Another way to maximize on your current heating systems is to replace your existing thermostat with a computerized setback or progammable thermostat. By setting it to fit your daily routine, you can be sure that your home is warm when you want it to be, and not when you are way from home.