Winterizing Your Home
Winter is a word not often uttered in the "sunshine state" of Florida, but the frigid season is definitely upon us and making itself known! Orange farmers are not the only ones making preparations for a colder-than-normal winter, and as the temperatures drop, it's time for all of us to start thinking about ways to "winterize" our homes.
Here are 10 ways to make this season a little warmer for you and your family, while at the same time saving money and energy in the process!
•1. Catching the Culprits
The first step in making your home "comfy and cozy" is finding the places where heat is leaving your home, and cold air is coming in to take up residence. Run your hand along windows and doors, checking for any cold spots. As a quick test, take a sheet of paper and close a door or window on it. If you can slide the sheet of paper out with ease, and it doesn't tear, you are losing heat.
•2. Window Pains
Windows are heat- losers, and thus money-losers. If you have older windows, now is certainly the time to think about replacing them with newer energy-efficient ones. Also, opening blinds and drapes during the day, especially the south facing ones, will allow sunlight and heat into your home. However, make sure to close them at night.
•3. Install & Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace the batteries with a fresh set. Keeping a fire extinguisher on hand isn't a bad idea either.
•4. Seal the Air
Installing some weather stripping not only helps keep in the heat, but also helps the durability of your home, and it's pretty inexpensive. There are many different types of weather stripping available; felt, vinyl, and metal. Make sure to add an extra 10-15% when measuring door frames and windows to ensure you purchase enough to complete the job. Caulking is another way to seal air and save energy, as are draft dodgers.
•5. Flue Season
Make sure you don't forget to close your chimney flue damper when it's not in use. You may also want to think about installing glass doors on your fireplace. Another option is what is known as a chimney balloon, which is a plastic balloon that fits just under the damper. If you decide to go that route, just make sure to measure and get the correct size or you may not see the savings you desire.
•6. Prevent Plumbing Freezes
Drain your garden hoses and sprinkler pipes to prevent your pipes from freezing and breaking. Also, be sure and insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
•7. Examine Your Insulation
As you climb into your attic to put away Christmas decorations, take a quick inventory of your existing insulation. It may be time to replace it, or at the very least to add to it. Service your heating system as well, and remember to change the filter monthly. Move any furniture or other household items that may be blocking vents in your home.
•8. Preparing the Outside
Bring sensitive potted plants inside or move them to a sheltered area. Seal the driveways, outside patios, and wood decks. Now would also be a good time to move debris out of the gutters and check along the foundation for cracks or other areas where heat may be escaping (or letting rodents in...Yuk!).
•9. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Although it's not likely we will get hit by a blizzard or snowstorm here in the Gulf Coast, it never hurts to be prepared for a power outage. Get some flashlights, candles, a blanket or two and some bottled water together. If nothing else, you'll be a little ahead of the game when hurricane season comes along again.
•10. Watch the Thermostat
Cranking the heat up isn't always the best option, especially for your wallet. Try grabbing a sweater or blanket before automatically reaching for your thermostat. A nice cup of hot cocoa and a blanket make for a cozy alternative.
Enjoy the winter season and stay warm!