While installing energy-efficient windows and doors and adding insulation can significantly bring down heat loss during cold months, there are also small fixes that can help reduce energy consumption.
Common Winterizing Checklist
- Change air filters
- Install or re-install storm windows in the attic to stop warm air from leaking
- Clear gutters to remove debris that could cause rainwater to freeze and damage them
- Clean ridge vents to allow your house to “breathe”
- Put insulation film over windows to reduce drafts
- Inspect weather stripping for cracks and peeling
- Install a tight-fitting fireplace door or cover to stop the loss of heat through the chimney
A dirty furnace is less efficient, so an annual inspection and cleaning is recommended. This can also help spot potential problems that can end up leaving your family in the cold if your heating system breaks down.
A damaged or dirty furnace can emit dangerous fumes. Signs of failure include soot on countertops and vents, and inefficient heating. Fumes also may cause watery eyes, a runny nose and headaches. In such cases, it is best to turn off the furnace and consult an expert.
BBB recommends the following to winterize your home:
Plug holes – The average American home may have many small air leaks. Though they may not be large, they have a cumulative effect on home heating costs. Make sure windows close tightly. Check for leaks around them and use caulking to plug the leaks.
Consider insulating heating ducts – The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a centrally-heated home can lose as much as 60 percent of warmed air before it reaches vents if the duct work is poorly connected or not insulated, or if it travels through unheated spaces.
Get a chimney checkup – Before lighting the first fire of the season, your chimney should be checked for animals, nests, leaves and other debris, as well as for any necessary repairs. Select a reputable business or professional, rather than responding to solicitations.
This is also a good time for homeowners to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work, and install fresh batteries as needed. Detector units should be replaced every 10 years.