Just in time for Christmas…

Now’s the time to get your home buttoned-up for winter.

Here are 7 tips to help keep your home snug no matter how blustery the winter winds AND they’ll shrink your energy bills as well… Just in time for Christmas spending.

1. Install a programmable thermostat

Install a programmable thermostat

Image by: mason13a-photopin.com

 

Keeping your home warm while you’re at work is a waste of money and energy. Installing a programmable thermostat is an economical solution to this problem and as simple as hooking up a couple of low-voltage wires.

Even just lowering your thermostat by a degree or two could make a substantial difference.

A good programmable thermostat could potentially save the average home $180 a year.

2. Insulate your hot water heater

Adding a “thick blanket” or water heater jacket will help keep your water hot even when your tank’s not being used. Investing in a water heater jacket could potentially save you approx $5-12 per month – not bad for the small expense and about 1/2 hour of your time.

Consider insulating any visible hot water pipes as well – your water will stay hotter longer. Reducing the temperature of your hot water by a few degrees will also help you save dollars. If you have added the water heater jacket it’s easy to reduce the temperature as your water stays hot in the first place.

3. Seal your walls

The idea here is to keep cold air out and warm air in – any place where your drywall has been penetrated has the potential for leaking cold air.

Now’s a good time to check out all electrical outlets and switch plate covers. If you feel even the slightest cool breeze grab a tube of high-quality caulk and seal it, or seal them with an easy to install gasket placed underneath the plate cover.

Do the same for any light fixtures. This may seem like a small thing to do but the difference can be quite amazing.

This image from: Energy.gov  has even more places to look for heat/cold loss.

Air sealing your home

Air sealing your home

4. Check window & door seals

Check for drafts around your windows and doors. Repair any leaky and/or damaged window and door frames and sills. Use caulk to seal window frames and weather strip for doors.

If your windows aren’t double paned you’ll want to add a layer of plastic coating to improve cold protection. Consider adding some insulating window blinds – they could double or even triple your window’s performance against the cold.

5. Seal pot lights

Simply remove the outer ring of the pot light and seal the perimeter of the light with a good caulk.

The inside of the pot light should be sealed as well, as this will help to keep precious heat in your house.

Once you’ve properly sealed the light be sure not to use incandescent bulbs as it will build up heat that is no longer vented thanks to your sealing. Instead opt for an LED or CFL bulb – they’re cooler, and more efficient to run.

6. Fill any insulation gaps

Wherever your home’s walls are penetrated by something… whether it’s air vents, outside faucets, windows, doors, electrical outlets, fireplace, etc… there’s a potential for heat loss and cold intake. Grab a can of expanding foam and fill every crack, nook, and cranny – anywhere where heat can escape. Beware though that you don’t seal next to a gas flue or you’ll have a potential fire hazard on your hands.

Now check out your foundation – are there any areas where you see daylight? Cracks? Once again grab your handy can of expanding foam and fill away.

WARNING: Wear gloves when handling expanding foam as it’s really sticky.

Hole too big for expanding foam? Consider using some Roxul insulation – it’s easy to handle and no fibreglass-insulation-itch. It even provides a decent degree of sound absorption.

All you need to do is measure, cut to size, put in place, and if it’s a really big hole you’re filling… cover it with an air-tight barrier and you’re good to go.

7. Give your heating system a tune-up

Perform regular maintenance checks on your furnace to keep it running efficiently.

If you have a forced-air furnace, check your filters and replace them as needed. Generally, you should change them about once every month or two, especially during periods of high usage. Have a professional check and clean your equipment once a year.

If your heating unit is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing your system with one of the newer, energy-efficient units. A new furnace would greatly reduce your energy consumption.

Check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks, and should be sealed with some duct mastic.

Insulate any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces. An insulation R-Value of 6 is the recommended minimum.

A cup of coffee

photo credit: Joanna Bourne via photopin

And your done

That’s it. If you’ve done your job well your home should be snug and ready to face all that winter has to offer.

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