As temperatures begin to cool and foliage begins to turn, it’s a great time to start preparing your home for the winter months.
Here are 10 things you can do to help get it ready.
1. Install weatherstripping
There are a couple of ways to check your exterior doors for cold air leaks.
The high-tech approach is to use a laser infrared thermal gun that detects drafts. The low-tech way is to move a lit candle around the door frame; the flame will blow toward you in a draft.
Seal a drafty door by installing foam or felt weatherstripping inside the door frame.
2. Install a door sweep
This is a simple trick. A door sweep is a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that’s held to the door’s lower edge by a strip of aluminum. It’ll stop those cold winter drafts from chilling your feet.
3. Seal attic air leaks
No one likes crawling around in the attic, but sealing leaks there can help save you up to $300 in annual heating and cooling costs.
Pull back attic insulation to find and seal cutouts in drywall for electrical fixtures, pipes, fans and outlets. Also check wiring, chimneys, flues, vent stacks and ducts, and seal them on the inside. Use caulk to fill smaller gaps and pressurized expanding foam for bigger openings.
4. Close the flue
While everyone loves the roar of a crackling fire during the winter, more than smoke can disappear up the chimney.
An open damper is a highway for warm air to escape the house. Make sure to shut your flue after the fireplace has cooled.
5. Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year on fuel costs, according to EnergyStar.
The thermostat can save fuel by automatically lowering (or raising) your home’s temperature while you’re away. It also keeps temperatures consistent, saving fuel.
6. Seal heating ducts
Heating ducts can waste 20 to 30 percent of the heated air they carry because of leaks and poor conduction. Leaky heat ducts mean higher utility bills and a house that’s harder to keep warm.
You won’t be able to reach all of the ducts, but you can improve performance by sealing exposed ducts in the attic, crawl space, unfinished basement and garage. Focus on the places where ducts, vents and registers meet floors, walls and ceilings. Use mastic sealant or metal tape, which are more durable than duct tape, to seal the seams and connections.
7. Change your furnace filter monthly
Dirty furnace filters reduce furnace efficiency and push up heating bills. Check and replace the furnace filter monthly in winter or every three months while the system is in operation.
Hold the filter up to the light: If you can’t see light through it, you need a new one.
Pleated filters work best because they trap more dirt particles.
8. Insulate the hot water heater
You can save on fuel by wrapping older water heaters in a blanket of insulation. This is an easy do-it-yourself project, and you can often get instructions and even rebates from your utility company.
When insulating a gas or propane water heater, do not cover the burner access.
9. Lower the hot water temperature
Hot water heaters are usually set at 140 degrees. Lower the temperature on yours to 120 for fuel savings. You’ll reduce the chance of accidental burns, and the water still will be plenty hot for bathing, washing clothes and doing dishes.
10. Set ceiling fan blades for winter
While you often think of fans as a summertime appliance, they can be helpful in winter, too.
Set fan blades to move clockwise and run them slowly. The idea is to lift cool air to the ceiling and push heated air down where you can enjoy it.