As fall fades from the calendar, it’s time to get your house in shape for winter. From annual furnace inspections to protecting your outside faucets and pipes, here’s a handy to-do list to keep everyone in your family warm and dry until spring.
Schedule an inspection of your furnace in the early fall, before the first cold weather arrives. A professional inspection can catch problems before they become an emergency. Make sure you change your heating system’s filters on schedule.
Winterize drafty windows. Along the outside edge of the window casing, inspect the caulking. If it is old, yellowed and starting to shrink, use a putty knife to scrape it out, then replace it with a fresh line of outdoor caulk.
Inspect the weather stripping around exterior doors. If the stripping is torn or worn, pull it out and replace with new stripping from a home improvement store.
Check your attic insulation. Ask your heating system inspector for the “R” level of insulation recommended in your area of the country and how to determine if you have a thick enough layer. Heat rises through the ceiling into the attic. Adding a layer of insulation is the most effective step toward preserving home warmth.
Reverse the spin of your ceiling fans to meet the needs of the season. Your fan has a switch to change the direction of spin. A counter clockwise spin provides a cooling breeze for summer, whereas a clockwise turn pulls warm air back down to floor level.
Protect faucets and pipes. Faucets extending from outside walls should be wrapped in foam and covered with Styrofoam covers available from home improvement stores. Water hoses should be drained and stored in the garage or shed. Outdoor water pipes extending from the ground need to be wrapped in foam.
A glass screen for the fireplace greatly reduces the loss of warmth from your home being drafted up the chimney when a fire is burning. Yes, a cozy fire is comforting, but you may not realize that it sucks air from the inside of the house up the chimney, costing you warmth and money.
Get a programmable thermostat. This is a money saver year round. You can set the interior temperature higher and lower at scheduled times rather than rely on your memory to do so. The newest models “learn” your preferences and intuitively adjust. You can also control them remotely from your cell phone.
Home energy audits by professional inspectors can spot areas where your home may be leaking air, such as around can lighting in the ceiling or where piping exits exterior walls or the roof. They will do a test to determine your home’s internal air pressure and a similar test of the HVAC duct system. Air loss through walls is determined using a thermal detector. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good guide to home energy audits and how to find a professional at this link: http://energy.gov/energysaver/professional-home-energy-audits