When temperatures fall below freezing and everything is covered in ice, nothing compares to warming up in the comfort of your own home. However, keeping your home warm can be a little trickier this year as forecasters with the 2020 “Farmers’ Almanac” are predicting a particularly harsh winter.
Dubbed a “Polar Coaster”, it’s expected to bring fluctuating temperatures and frequent blasts of ice, sleet, and snow. Plus, the harshest winter weather could arrive earlier than normal.
Start keeping your home warm by taking these steps throughout the fall:
1Plug up any air leaks
Air leaks in caulk or weather stripping allow frigid air to enter your house and warm air to leak out. You can save between 5% and 10% on your energy bill by simply plugging these leaks.
While the weather is still warm, check your weather stripping by closing doors and windows onto a sheet of paper. The stripping needs replacement if it slides easily around the paper. Find other air leaks in the home by holding a lit candle around doors, window frames, and wire holes. A flickering flame means you need to insulate the area.
For more high-tech, accurate results, consider using an air leak detector. Once the device is turned on, point it toward the locations where leaks are suspected. A light emanating from the device will scan the area.
If a leak exists, it’ll turn blue if the air is cold and red if the air is warm. If no leaks are detected, the light won’t change colors at all.
2Insulate anything and everything
People often avoid insulating their homes because they imagine wrestling with huge pieces of itchy, pink material. Fortunately, insulation has gotten a lot easier to work with. It’s still just as crucial for keeping your home comfortable and efficient.
Look for areas without adequate insulation, starting with the attic, garage, and any unfinished spaces. Use cellulose and spray in those areas. They provide a superior thermal barrier between your home and the worst winter weather.
3Show some love to your furnace
A pleasant home requires a fully functioning furnace. Before you have to rely on it daily, a certified HVAC technician should inspect the furnace and give it a tuneup. This affordable service helps avoid breakdowns, improves energy efficiency, and fulfills the requirements of the warranty.
If the furnace is past its prime, have a replacement installed immediately. You want everything to be up and running before the first cold night of the year.
4Give the roof a close inspection
Heat travels upward and if your roof is full of holes, it’s allowing valuable heated air to drift outside. Inspect every inch of the roof for gaps, cracks and leaks, particularly around vents, chimneys, and valleys. Looking for missing, curled or damaged shingles is also important. Unused antennas or satellite dishes can damage your roof in a strong storm, so consider removing them while you’re already up there.
5Get serious about gutters
Gutters divert water away from your foundation which is just as important in the winter when you face melting snowfall and freezing water expansion. Take action before the leaves start to fall.
Clean the gutters thoroughly. Then, consider installing mesh guards to keep the next round of leaves out. Inspect the downspouts and install extenders as needed. If anything is seriously damaged, replace it in the fall when the work is easy to do.
6Prepare your whole lawn
Unfortunately, landscaping doesn’t stop when the summer ends. Even when the grass stops growing taller, the roots are still growing deeper, making fall the ideal time to fertilize. Even more importantly, overgrown trees can be a serious liability in the winter if limbs fall into power lines and leave your furnace disabled. Hire an arborist to preemptively remove anything that could put your power at risk.
7Don’t forget to decorate
A “warm” home is just as much about the atmosphere as the temperature. Even if we have an early, aggressive winter, the season is peppered with exciting holidays, starting with Halloween and carrying all the way through Super Bowl Sunday. If you feel inclined, decorate inside and out. It won’t necessarily keep the cold air out, but it will help turn your home into an inviting place for family and friends to gather.
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8Author: Steve Smith
Steve Smith is founder and CEO of GeoComfort Geothermal Systems, a geothermal heat pump manufacturer. Geothermal heating and cooling harnesses the earth’s power to transfer natural heat in the winter and cool air in the summer—all in a completely eco-friendly, sustainable way.