As this article is being written, the holidays are approaching, and the end of the year is nigh. However, this doesn’t mean it’s too late to make some preparations for the long cold months ahead.
The astronomical start of winter is December 21st or 22nd, and the season doesn’t end until March 20th or 21st. There are plenty of reasons then for wanting to make your home warmer, and more energy efficient.
It is said that residential energy consumption rises between 35% and 40% during winter times as lights are left on longer, and more heating is used. Obviously, the cold plays a big part here, but people stay indoors much more during winter than they do in the summer. This creates a greater need for electricity and gas.
What can you do to get your home set for the winter?
Winter is not everyone’s favorite season by a long chalk, but it is the perfect time for certain jobs to be done. For instance, winter is the perfect time to check any trees you have and prune them where necessary. This is because pests are dormant at this time of the year.
Other tasks would ideally be done before winter sets in, but the cold plus rising utility bills can be a great motivator to carry out a few more jobs around the home. Energy bills in the US rose nearly 16% in August 2022 compared with the same time the previous year so making a home more energy-efficient is crucial now.
Below are some tasks that can be accomplished alone, or with minimal help from professionals, and could save you money.
Check the roofing thoroughly
Michigan roofers, Magnum, recommend checking your roof for any problems to make sure it is ready for winter. This means looking for missing or cracked shingles and checking for leaks. Trimming any nearby branches can prevent possible damage from occurring.
You should also clear out the gutters, and inspect the flashing if possible. If you are concerned about roofing problems then this is the time to ask a roofing firm for advice.
Check the attic
Look for mold and mildew, and any potential leaks. Water damage is a clear sign of a leak that needs fixing, and this can lead to rot. If you have leaks then your roof integrity can be at risk due to structural problems with rot.
Install a smart thermostat
One report showed that by installing a smart thermostat, customers could save between 10% and 12% on heating and cooling bills. That works out to be a yearly saving of around $140.
An article by Consumer Reports puts this figure a little lower at 8%, with a saving of $50 annually. However, with the average cost of a smart thermostat being around $200 or so, it will pay for itself during its lifespan.
Seal cracks and leaks
Where vents are located, pipes, or wiring, there will often be some small gaps letting cold air through. Use caulking to seal these up.
Protect your pipes
While attending to this area it is well worth considering how best to protect your pipes too. You can use heat tape and insulation to protect pipes. The ones you need to worry about are those that are exposed and in areas such as the attic or the garage. Don’t forget your basement or any crawl space you have.
Switch to LED lights
Changing your lighting over to energy-efficient LED lights won’t make your home any warmer or cozier, but it will make it greener. LEDs last longer than incandescent lights, and they cost less to run.
At a time of year when you will rely on artificial lights more, using LEDs is one of the better energy-efficient practices for homes during winter time.
Recaulk windows and doors
When you caulk the gaps around your vents and pipes, you might want to carry on and do the windows and doors too. Sealing these will go a long way to winter proofing your home and help you have cozy warm nights.
Invest in draft excluders
Some older homes are prone to drafts. Front and back doors are often offenders here. A couple of draft excluders will not break the bank, but they will help your home to be more energy-efficient.
Buy some heavy curtains
Perhaps you are one of the many people who prefer to use blinds in your home rather than drapes or curtains. These window coverings can certainly be stylish, but they do little to retain heat. Heavy curtains can help keep draughts out, and the heat indoors where you want it.
Service your heat pump
If you live in one of the 17 million households in the US that has a heat pump, then ideally you will have had this serviced before winter arrived. If not, then get it done now. This will ensure your heat pump runs properly and efficiently.
Insulate the home
You cannot overlook the importance of proper roof installation, and insulation is a vital part of this. Insulation can last for 4 decades, so it is a worthy investment. And when you consider that 25% of heat is lost through uninsulated roofs, it makes even more sense financially to get this done fast.
Get your furnace checked
Over in the UK, they call this a boiler, but in the US you’ll know it as a furnace. If you have one in your home it should be checked annually. Get this serviced and you will have the peace of mind that it will be working fine during a potentially cold winter.
Install a carbon monoxide alarm
If you don’t already have one then this is a vital purchase. It is the best way to find out if there are any concerns with your heating system. If one is already in the home check the batteries are working by testing them.
Buy candles, batteries, and a torch
Over the last 20 years, power outages have doubled in the US. In the last 5 years, there have been around 100 annual power cuts due to bad weather. While this is often more inconvenient than anything, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Having a torch and candles easily locatable will at least furnish you with some light. Just don’t forget the matches and batteries.
Know where your stopcock is
This is such a simple thing, but many people have never bothered to locate their stopcock or even considered looking for it. At a time of year when burst pipes are a possibility, knowing exactly where your stopcock is, is very important to avert a potential disaster quickly.
Consider investing in more security
Some smart devices are great at making homes more eco-friendly, and others can be used to make them more secure.
It is a fact that crimes against property rise during winter months, especially as families travel to meet up leaving their homes empty.
There are many more things you can do to make your home safer, greener, and more comfortable during those long winter days and nights. Yet, just by following some of the steps above you will help yourself to realize lower utility bills, and enjoy a warmer home.
There is a little investment needed, but in the case of fixing roofing issues, these can save you from bigger and more costly problems throughout the winter season.