When the weather turns colder, it can be hard to maintain the ideal thermostat settings for your indoor comfort. This is the time of year when heat loss can be a real problem and the energy bills rise. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to take steps to winterize your home. This will improve your comfort, lower the utility bills and keep the allergens at bay.
Is Winterization Really Necessary?
We don’t get the extreme weather that some other parts of the U.S. receive. For this reason, many people don’t consider winterization to be necessary. But, even from an energy saving perspective, it really does make a lot of sense. Experts estimate that winterization can save an average home at least $283 per year. This process also helps to protect your home by improving the durability and this adds value. Let’s take a closer look at seven tips to winterize you home.
1. Weatherizing the Exterior
Stronger winds and colder weather can take a toll on the exterior of your home. But, you can mitigate some of these issues if you adopt a proactive approach. First, check the roof for any missing, loose or broken shingles and fix them with roofing sealant. Trim back any tree branches that may be overhanging the roof to prevent damage as they move in the wind. Clean away any dirt and debris on the roof and clean the gutters and downspouts. This will ensure that rain can drain freely, and it will prevent the growth of mold inside pipes. Check the basement and crawl spaces for debris and moisture buildup. If there is any standing water moving through cracks, you can install a vapor barrier to prevent mold growth and an accumulation of moisture.
2. Take Charge of the Climate
Most modern homes have a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set heating times and temperatures in advance. But, an upgrade to a smart thermostat is a smart move if you want to take charge of your indoor climate. A smart thermostat will allow you to monitor and make changes to your HVAC system remotely via Wifi. Changes are made in real time and you get warnings if something goes wrong. You can set your desired temperature, timings, humidity levels and more. If an unexpected change occurs, and you’re getting home later than usual, simply change when the heating comes on using your phone app. These units help you to save energy with more accurate controls and real-time monitoring. Experts estimate that an average home can save up to 25% on heating costs when a smart thermostat is installed.
If your HVAC system is compatible with a smart thermostat, you can use the unit to set up and control HVAC zoning in your home. This is a great way to get the temperature you need in the right areas to maximise home comfort without breaking the bank. For many homes, this could end the thermostat wars that seem to occur when the weather turns colder.
3. Reverse Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Many homes have ceiling fans because they are cheap to run and the air they move makes the room feel cooler. But, many people don’t know that the direction of the fan has a huge impact on their performance. In summer, you need your ceiling fans in the clockwise direction to distribute cooled air. But, in fall and winter, you can reverse the fan direction to improve the distribution of heat. The heated air that tends to gather at the ceiling or upper floors because it’s lighter is forced down and into the rooms.
4. Attic Insulation
If you don’t have sufficient insulation in your attic, it can affect the cooling and heating of your home. Insulation is a passive way to prevent treated air from entering the attic and external temperatures from making your home colder or warmer. The basic principle is that cold air sinks and hot air rises, which means that the attic can make your HVAC system work harder. Adding some extra wallboard/plywood and insulation material can help to close off large unused areas. Any smaller gaps around ducts, wires, pipes, and joints can be sealed with caulk.
5. Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up
The last thing that you need is an HVAC system that fails once the heating or cooling season gets underway. The best time to schedule a tune-up for your system is before the heating or cooling season, but later is better than never. A professional HVAC technician can inspect the components to ensure that they are in good shape for the season ahead. Air filters are checked, cleaned, or changed and moving parts are lubricated for easy movement. An HVAC system is complex and it needs professional attention to ensure that it’s working at optimal efficiency. Well maintained equipment is less likely to fail, it consumes less energy and it has a longer lifespan.
6. Inspect and Clean the Ductwork
We tend to forget that we have a network of ducts and pipes traveling through our homes to deliver the treated air where it’s needed. This is an area where many people lose a lot of money because gaps, cracks, and breaks will allow the treated air to escape. The system will attempt to compensate by working harder, which places additional strain on the system, making failure more likely. The HVAC system will also expend more energy which will drive up the utility bills for no appreciable benefit. You can clean the vents easily with vacuum cleaner attachments, but accessing, inspecting, and cleaning the ductwork is tricky. A great deal of the ductwork is hidden and it makes better sense to contact your local HVAC specialist and ask them to clean it for you.
7. Weatherize the Doors and Windows
HVAC specialists estimate that around 30% of heating and cooling is lost via unsealed doors and windows. This is an easy problem to solve if you seal those gaps and cracks with sealant.
If you want to schedule a tune-up for your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.