4 Ways to Winterize Your Home and Save Money
Both for environmental and financial reasons, energy efficiency is a priority for many homeowners. Especially when the weather gets cold and heaters kick on, many people watch as their utility bills increase and wonder what they can do to lower these expenses. Thankfully, there’s plenty a person can do to prep their property for colder weather. Try these four ways to winterize your home and save money.
Schedule Fireplace Upkeep
Image via Flickr by Fallonious Monk
If you have a fireplace, it’s important to clean and maintain it, especially before peak summers and winters. The fireplace can be a huge source of lost energy if the space isn’t cleaned and cared for. Namely, if there are any cracks in the chimney, the warm air you’re paying for will seep through. This means your HVAC system will have to work much harder to warm your home.
To prepare a fireplace for winter, you should:
- Have it professionally cleaned.
- Check for and repair any damage, giving particular attention to the cap.
- Follow best practices for lighting fires and cleaning throughout the winter.
Maintain the HVAC System
We rely on our heaters to keep us comfortable in the cold weather — especially in the Midwest, where temperatures can plummet from October through March. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the temperature to drop below zero in this part of the country. Naturally, your HVAC system will undergo extensive use in the winter. Schedule routine maintenance throughout the year and book a regular checkup before the peak cold season for two reasons:
First, you don’t want your heater to go out when you need it most. Secondly, you’ll be using the system a lot this time of year. Routine maintenance means the system will be cleaned and parts replaced, if needed before they further wear out and potentially break. This will ensure that the HVAC system performs optimally, which not only can prevent it from breaking but will also ensure it uses as little energy as possible to keep running.
Check the Home’s Exterior
You should check your home’s exterior for damage for the same reasons you cared for your fireplace. Any cracks in the walls or foundation are a source of lost heat. Again, this means your HVAC will have to work much harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Also, check the insulation. A home energy audit can help you identify issues with your home’s exterior and leaks in your insulation.
Check the Pipes
Don’t neglect your pipes in winter. A pipe that bursts because the water inside freezes and expands can lead to a costly repair and numerous other problems, including water damage. If you have pipes that are exposed outside or in a chilly basement, make sure they’re properly insulated. The good news is that pipe insulation is very cheap. You can also prevent pipes from freezing by maintaining a consistent temperature and opening cabinets and doors where pipes are concealed.
Winter means more energy use, but that doesn’t have to mean astronomically high bills. Follow the above tips to better use energy at home and to keep your utilities as low as possible during this frosty time of year. Don’t forget to winterize your vehicles also.