Autumn Is Perfect Time to Winterize Your House
UPDATED November 5, 2013
By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West
Right now is a great time to prepare your home for the bone-chilling winds and deep freeze that are right around the corner.
Doing the following simple tasks will help keep the cold out and will help your house use less energy, possibly saving you a lot of cash in the process.
Check your Windows and Doors
Air leaking through windows and under doors is one of the top ways for winter`s chill to seep into a house.
The outside of every window should be checked to make sure that the caulk or weather-stripping around them isn`t cracked or missing. If it is, replace with new caulk available at your local home improvement stores. Don`t forget to check the caulk around utility entry points, outdoor spigots and windows in basements and garages. In addition, if you have them, storm windows should be cleaned, checked for cracks and placed over windows.
For doors, make sure it has weather stripping along the bottom and around the side of the door. When closed, you shouldn`t feel any air passing between the door and the frame. If you do, install new weather stripping around the door. For storm doors, remove the summer screen and replace with a storm window, making sure the door closes snugly against the frame.
Proper attic insulation also helps to keep homes warmer, cutting down on the cost of heating. Check your local home improvement center to find out how much insulation you should have in your house for your region of the country.
Programmable Thermostats and Carbon Monoxide Monitor
If you do not have one, buy and install a programmable thermostat. It will regulate the temperature of the house during different times of the day, allowing you to lower the temperature when the house is empty and increase it while people are present. Programming the thermostat can save you up to 30 percent on your heating bill.
If you live in a house that uses natural gas, wood, coal, kerosene, propane or heating oil, purchase a carbon monoxide monitor. These systems will alert you if there is an unsafe buildup of poisonous but odorless, colorless carbon monoxide gas in your house.
Check the Heating System
Have a heating professional do a routine checkup, making sure that everything is working properly. The last thing you want is your heating system to break down during a winter cold snap and not being able to get it serviced for several days. Also, be sure to change the air filter in the system. This will help the furnace run cleaner and keep dust out of the air.
Turn Off and Drain Outdoor Spigots
To prevent water damage caused by frozen pipes, turn off and drain the outdoor spigots. To do this, turn off the inside shutoff valve and open the outside water spigot. This will allow any water in the system to drain. If there is a drain plug attached, open it so that all the water can drain from the system.
Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts can often become clogged with leaves, twigs and other debris. If clogged, gutters and downspouts could overflow, puddling water, ice and snow on the roof and under eaves. Water that freezes under eaves and roof shingles can create leaks and water damage on the sub-roofing and in attics. While you have the ladder out, check the flashing around the chimney or vents, making sure they are water tight. Replace any loose roof shingles.
These basic steps will help you save money while keeping your house nice and warm during the upcoming winter months.
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Snow piles up in Pulaski, N.Y., following snowstorms in February 2007. Photo courtesy of WeatherBug user Ernie Mance.
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