Fall is here! You can feel the chill in the air, which means winter is around the corner. This is my favorite time of the year. Cooler weather, football, leaves changing colors and pumpkin flavored everything! The downfall to the winter season is higher energy bills. Whether you have an old inefficient home or a brand new Energy Star Certified Home, your bills are going to increase. The question is how much?
This blog is designed to give you 10 tips to prepare you and your home for the winter season. Some will deal with energy efficiency and others will cover general maintenance and habits.
- Programmable Thermostat – Re-program your thermostat. Your set points should be different from the summer season. I don’t heat the house higher than 68 degrees in the fall and winter, but for some that is too low. Try to keep it under 70 degrees F at all times. When you are at work or at night , try not to go lower than 65 degrees F. If you go lower than 62-65 for long periods of time, the system will have to work much harder to get back up to a comfortable temp.
- Freezing Pipes – If you leave for days or weeks, DO NOT turn the system off! Turn it no lower than 60 degrees F. You risk freezing pipes and having a huge mess on your hands. It is also hard on the mechanical equipment and electronics throughout the home.
- Warmer Cloths – Wear warmer clothes when you are at home. This allows you to keep your thermostat set at a lower temperature and still be comfortable.
- Furnace Filter – Change your furnace filter. This should be checked monthly, but it is very important to start the heating season with a clean filter.
- Balanced Air Flow – Make sure furniture and other obstructions are moved away from heating supply and return registers. Maximum balanced air flow will help your system run as efficiently as possible. It will also increase the comfort of your home.
- Dry House – Many homes become very dry in the winter. Running a humidifier is only a band-aid. The only real solution is eliminating air infiltration. Seal up the home. Your home should have a relative humidity level of between 30-50%. Relative humidity meters are inexpensive.
- Dirty Gutters – Once the leaves fall, make sure you clean the gutters and downspouts. Not only will this make your life easier in the spring, it will help the water drain away from the house during those winter thaws which we typically get here in Michigan.
- Weather Stripping – Check the weather stripping on doors and windows and replace it if it is inadequate, damaged or missing.
- Close Windows – Keep windows closed and locked. Locking windows will typically seal the window to its maximum level, which lowers the amount of warm air exiting.
- Solar Heat Gain – Open the shades on windows facing the sun and let that solar heat gain help warm the house and take some of the load off the HVAC equipment. This is a give and take situation since older windows that have good heat gain in the winter will also have heat gain in the summer and add to the cooling load. New windows with good low-e coatings will minimize the heat gain.
These are some basic do-it-yourself tips on getting your home and habits ready for the winter season. Obviously there are many more things that can be done, some of which require a contractor and are more expensive. Before you commit to the expensive measures, such as adding insulation, consult with an energy auditor to make sure your money is going in the right place.
Our Home Energy Audit looks at each aspect of your home to prioritize a list of possible improvements and potential savings.