We are in the last week of October, and that means winter is right around the corner. With the colder months approaching, we have started bringing out our warmer jackets and gloves to keep warm, but have you readied your home for the cold winter winds? Even though planning for the wintertime season is very important, many of us don’t think about it. Being a real estate agent for so many years, I have learned a thing or two about how to prepare your home for this cold and windy period. Not only are there many simple ways you can prepare your home for winter weather… but most will help you save money too! Here are eight of my favorites:
1. Seal air leaks – escaping hot air around your house can add up to 15 – 35 percent heat loss. Instead of warming the whole neighborhood this winter, check for leaks by holding up a lit candle to common trouble spots, such as:
- Window frames
- Door frames
- Outside vents to your dryer
- Spaces around window mounted air conditioners
If the candle flickers, you have a leak. Pick up a tube of caulk and use it to seal the leaks.
2. Check your air filters – if your air filter is dirty, your central air will have to work harder to heat your home, costing you more money. Over time, dirty and clogged filters can also cause bigger (and costlier) problems. Swap out your old filter for a new one, every three months. It only takes a few minutes! Make sure you take the measurements found on your filter when picking up a replacement at your local hardware store.
3. Install a programmable thermostat – if you are still using a manual thermostat, you are wasting money. Programmable thermostats will save you about $180 a year in heating and cooling costs. You can buy inexpensive programmable thermostats at hardware stores. Once installed, set the thermostat to automatically lower when you are away from the house or asleep and score automatic savings!
4. Insulate your water heater – heating your water can be responsible for 14 to 25 percent of the energy used in your home. Wrapping your water heater is one easy way to lower the costs. You can buy a fiberglass and plastic insulating blanker for less than $25 and it only takes about 30 minutes to install. The savings will pay for the cost of the blanket in one year or less.
5. Seal your air ducts – over time, the seals around your ducts will deteriorate and start to leak. Up to 20 percent of the circulating air in your home is lost due to loose or faulty ducts. Simply pick up a roll of HVAC foil tape and wrap the tape around the joints to stop any leaks. If there are any visible holes, patch them with a fiberglass weave and seal them off with a water-based mastic air duct sealant.
6. Close your attic – The simple sheet of plywood covering your attic stairs is hardly leak proof. During the winter, heat will escape through the sides of the cover and into your attic. To stop the leak, you can install an attic tent, which is an insulated fabric container that fits over your pull-down stairs.
7. Insulate your light switches and outlets - if you’ve ever replaced a light switch or outlet cover, you probably noticed the gaping hole in the wall behind that cover. The problem is, those thin plastic covers don’t provide a great barrier and cold air can get through that hole and into your home. To combat the cold leaks, install foam gaskets underneath your light switch and outlet covers. You can pick up pre-cut foam covers that will fit around electrical receptacles and light switches at hardware stores. Since they’re pre-cut, you just need to unscrew the cover, pop the foam cover on, and reattach the light switch or outlet cover plate for an easy fix.
8. Reverse your fans – We don’t usually think of running our ceiling fans during the winter but they can help circulate the warm air. During the summer, your ceiling fans should run counterclockwise, which pulls the air down toward you. During the winter reverse the ceiling fan’s direction by flipping the toggle switch on the base of the fan. Run on a low setting, the fan will draw cool air from the floor up toward the ceiling, making the room feel warmer.
So, there you have it. If you follow those tips, your home is on the way to being ready for winter. If you are looking to sell your home or buy a new one (or if you know someone who is), make sure to give me a call, because I can help! Not only do I love helping families buy and sell in Union County, but I can help you re-locate anywhere in the Country! Send me an email at NjRealtorJodi@gmail.com or call me anytime: 732-713-0051.