Winter is just around the corner for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21st) and, although, many would argue it’s already here, the coldest days are yet to come. To help stay comfortable and save money this Winter season, try these five steps to help keep the drafts away and the warmth inside.
1. Remove Window Based Air Conditioners
Window AC tends to have horrible insulation, allowing a large contact area only being bridged with a flimsy accordion style piece of plastic. Even if you cover it with cardboard, or foam, it will still not be as effective as if the window was closed. So remove that AC and clean it if you can before storing it safely for winter. Be sure that it is dry so ice does not accumulate which could cause damage to some interior components.
If you have central air, be sure you maintenance it properly before winter. This includes covering it from snow and ice, as well as closing any units air flow if available.
2. Outside Inspection
Take a trip outside and look around your home for any signs of damage, or issues, that may have cropped up in the past year. Cracks in exterior walls can lead to cold walls and even colder rooms. Damaged faucets could leak water and freeze and should be drained and replaced before their next use. Ensure water can’t pool and drains properly away from your property. Don’t forget your plants either! Ensure they are ready for the winter and moved to a warmer location or covered appropriately for surviving the cold.
3. Insulate Your Pipes
This is one of the most commonly known items to freeze, yet numerous people suffer from frozen pipes every year. Even if the pipes are in a warm area, insulating them can prevent issue if your heat source is interrupted. Pipes will burst when they freeze causing not only damage to the pipe, but flooding the area as well. Do yourself a favor now, as no one wants to deal with water damage in the middle of winter.
4. Clean Heat Registers
Before turning on your furnace, or electric heat, be sure the registers are clear and flammable objects are not placed near them. The last thing anyone wants is a house fire, and taking a few minutes to clean and dust or debris build up could save you from this kind of tragedy. If you have small kids, relatives with small kids that visit, or pets it is especially important to ensure all registers are clear as they may get toys or other items stuck without your knowledge. How much can get stuck there? When I moved in to where Allyson and I live now, I found the following items in my electric heat: penny, corroded AAA battery, paper, rocks, half of a Lego figurine, and a large collection of pet hair. In all honesty, I am surprised how this place didn’t burn down in years past, but I certainly didn’t expect to find these kinds of items.
5. Insulate Doors & Windows
As the temperatures change and becomes noticeably different between inside and outside your living space, search for drafts and snuff them out. Use your hand, or anything that moves easily with a slight breeze(such as light fabric or string), and go around your doors and windows to find any air gaps. Houses are not designed to be air tight, but any movement you can feel or see should be addressed. Use weather stripping(foam tape) to close any gaps where the window or door meets with it’s jam. Tape can be used to temporarily patch cracks or gaps.
For additional insulation, you can use a Window Insulation kit(similar to cellophane) where you create an insulating air pocket between your room and the window. For a simpler solution you could also use bubble wrap or foam, although these will reduce the amount of natural light available in your home.
I kept this list to basic items anyone should be able to do no matter if they rent or own their space. With that said, this list is nowhere near complete. So do you have anything else that you do to prep for winter or save money on heating? Let us know in the comments below!