It’s that time of year again when the leaves are changing colors, and here in Nashville you’re well aware of what follows…Cold Air! Before the cooler air starts sweeping through, however, you should brainstorm some ways that you can prepare your home for winter.
When you think of “winterizing” your home, try to focus on your residents and their comfort with two priorities.
- Make changes to lower their energy costs, and
- Improve their comfort.
1.) Furnace Inspection
Call an HVAC professional to inspect and clean your furnace. A furnace can lose some of its heating efficiency without a cleaning at least every other year. The technician should run a combustion analysis test to show you how well your furnace is running.
Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. A dirty filter will clog the air flow and make your furnace work harder which will cost you more money.
Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable one.
2.) Your Hot Water Tank
Make sure the temperature is not too high—if it is, you’re wasting money. If you have to, mix cold water with the hot water – you can lower the temperature and save money.
Do NOT add a hot water tank wrap to your tank. Most hot water tanks built in the last 15 years don’t need one.
3.) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows
Inspect the exterior of your home for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes.
If you see any cracks, seal them. A good silicone caulk works best for this.
Use weather-stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home.
Replace windows with holes in them, and if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.
If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. This keeps the leaves, moisture, and weather away from your window so that it does not rot.
Put your storm windows in place.
Add plastic to windows. This adds a layer of air which increases a windows R-value.
Hang thermal curtains in front of your windows.
Pull your chairs or sofas at least 6” away from any windows. Windows tend to be the coldest surfaces in our house and separating ourselves from them can make your home feel much warmer.
4.) Inspect Roof, Gutters and Downspouts
During the winter, if you notice snow melting on your roof while other snowy roofs in the neighborhood are not, air sealing and extra insulation may be the solution.
If your roof is showing signs of deterioration, consider replacing it. Sometimes you can replace a section or one side of the roof if you can’t afford a full replacement.
Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Water build up will create bigger ice weight on your gutters and pull them down or bend them out of shape.
Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters so they don’t get clogged. Add extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home. This prevents water from getting into your basement.
5.) Service Weather-Specific Equipment
Make sure your snow shovels are in good condition.
Buy bags of ice-melt / sand.
Remove the gas from your lawnmower and grass trimmer.
6.) Check Foundations
Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
Secure crawlspace entrances.
7.) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The recent code requires a smoke detector on every level of your home and one in front of every bedroom. If a bedroom shares a common hall, you only need one in that area adjacent to the bedrooms. A Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector is also required to be on each level of your home.
Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.
8.) Prevent Plumbing Freezes
Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
Drain air conditioner pipes, and if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
9.) Prepare Landscaping and Outdoor Surfaces
Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot withstand the winter.
Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
10.) Get an Energy Audit
An energy audit completed by a Home Performance with Energy Star Contractor can show you the best ways to save money on your energy bill.
A report can be generated to show you the best investments you can make to help your family stay more comfortable, reduce damage to your home and save money on your heating bill.
Sign up for an Energy Audit for your home at www.gogreen-nashville.com
More than 40% of America’s carbon emissions come from heating, cooling, lighting and operating buildings. Nashville’s urban neighborhoods are characterized by unique, historic homes and thus that percentage is even higher. These homes must be retrofitted to increase their energy efficiency, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, and shrink the community’s carbon footprint.
Go Green Nashville is an initiative to reduce Nashville’s energy consumption by 5%. Homeowners and businesses in Nashville’s urban neighborhoods are encouraged to undergo an NES In-Home Energy Evaluation to decrease their power usage.
Here are other things you can do to improve the comfort in your home this winter
- Lowering your temperature setting 5 degrees at night when everyone is asleep can save you 5% on your heating bill. If everyone is out of the house during the day for an eight hour period, keep the temperature turned down and save another 5%.
- Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. A dirty filter will clog the air flow and make your furnace work harder which will cost you more money.
- If your home is heated by radiators, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. This action lets the air out. When water appears, close the valve.
- Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.
- Add plastic to windows. This adds a layer of air which increases a windows R-value.
- Hang thermal curtains in front of your windows.
- Pull your chairs or sofas at least 6” away from any windows. Windows tend to be the coldest surfaces in our house and separating ourselves from them can make your home feel much warmer.
- Test smoke and CO detectors to make sure they work.
- Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
- A CO detector has a life of 5 years, so replace them if you believe yours is that old.
- Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
- Drain all garden hoses and put them away for the winter.
- If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to 55 degrees.
- Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard.
- Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.