It’s easy to overlook preparing your home for winter – but it can cost you in high energy bills, equipment malfunctions, home pest issues and more.
If you are looking for a reprieve in your energy bills, don’t expect one this year. In mid October, the Energy Information Administration predicted natural gas users will see a 22% climb in their heating bills this year over the 2015-2016 heating season. If you’ve been thinking of improving your home’s energy efficiency, now is the time. Here are steps to take today to get your home ready for winter.
Seal Air Leaks
Air sealing is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to reduce energy loss and keep energy bills lower during winter. A leaky home can waste approximately 10 to 15 percent of a home’s heating dollars. Air leaks are found around doors and windows, penetration points in the attics (can lights, chimney chases, etc.).
Check and Upgrade Your Attic Insulation
Many of today’s homes are under insulated when compared to today’s building codes. After sealing air leaks, adding a layer of blown-in fiberglass insulation to your attic space can further reduce your energy bills and help keep your home comfortable.
Seal and Insulate your Crawl Space
Crawl spaces can cause a variety of headaches for homeowners. Because they crawl spaces have direct contact with the earth, they become damp. This is a great breeding ground for mold and mildew, and provides an ideal living space for pests.
Check Your Heating System
Now is the time to schedule your routine inspection of your home’s heating system. By confirming it’s in good working order, you’ll know it’s working as efficiently as possible – and you’ll help avoid a mid-winter break down.
And don’t forget to change your air filter! Changing it often throughout the year can help your system run more efficiently – and help reduce dust in your home.
Change your Light Bulbs
Take a quick inventory of the bulbs throughout your home. Upgrading to LED bulbs can reduce your energy bills, especially during winter’s shorter days and lights are on more than any other time of year. The investment in LED bulbs will pay off quickly!
When homeowners get ready for winter, it’s common to think about attic insulation, windows and similar areas that can be affected by cold temps. It’s easy to overlook water pipes -and they can cause immense damage if they freeze and break.
When the temperature of a water pipe drops below freezing, it can quickly become damaged. When water freezes, it can expand up to ten percent in volume. This creates additional pressure on the pipes and valves in the system.
It’s important to keep pipes from being exposed to cold temperatures. Here are some ways to protect pipes from the cold:
Adding insulation to walls that would affect water pipes.
Cover exposed pipes in crawl spaces or attics with insulation sleeves.
Re-route any pipes that are on an outside wall to an inside wall. If this isn’t an option, during cold temps keep cabinet doors open below the sink to allow warm air to reach pipes and keep them from freezing.
Seal cracks or gaps in the foundation or walls that could allow pipes to be exposed to cold air.
Don’t wait for your home to be damaged from frozen pipes. Contact our office and schedule your free estimate. Our team will review your home and make recommendations for ways you can help reduce the risk of your pipes freezing.
The icicles hanging from your roof may look pretty, but they may be a sign of a bigger problem. Icicles can be a sign of ice dams – chunks of ice that form along the edges of your roof. Ice dams typically form when snow melts on your roof, water pools on the edge of the roofline and refreezes. During the freeze, the ice can back up under the roofing material and create ice dams. Ice dams result in water seeping into soffits, walls and even ceilings. Damage goes far beyond cosmetic issues – your home’s structure can suffer from moisture damage and even rot.
There are three key steps we recommend to reduce the risk of ice dams:
1. Seal Air Leaks
Approximately one-third of heat loss in an average home is through the ceiling into the attic. Most of that heat loss comes from air leaks. These can be found in a variety of places such as gaps in drywall and other penetration points around things such as light fixtures, plumbing pipes, chimneys, access hatches and more. By stopping air leakage you’ll not only help minimize ice dams, you’ll save energy and reduce your heating and cooling bills
2. Check your Insulation
Having proper insulation levels in your attic will work to keep the heat where it belongs – in your living space. Uncertain if your insulation level is enough? We can help. We typically recommend adding blown-in fiberglass insulation to attics of existing homes to fill open spaces around your current insulation.
3. Add roof and soffit vents
Proper ventilation is an important part of attic insulation. A qualified insulation contractor will be able to determine if your attic has proper venting, and if not, how that can be corrected to ensure your attic has proper air flow.
Even if your home has adequate insulation and proper venting, large amounts of snow and the weight of that snow can result in roof damage. After a large snowfall it’s recommended to rake the snow from your roof to remove some of the weight and allow any water to flow off the roof.
Still have questions on how to prevent ice dams in your home? Contact us!