If you’ve left your home at all over the past couple weeks, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it’s getting cold outside. Wet, too. The coming winter means a lot of different things to different people, but for most of us, especially those of us with kids, it likely means stressing out over impending high utility bills and countless hours stuck indoors.
Don’t worry. Be proactive. Getting your home ready now, while the weather is only slightly dreary, will make the coming winter months seem much less daunting.
If you’re anything like me, as soon as the weather started getting nice, you probably came up with a very ambitious list of home and garden chores you hoped to accomplish. Maybe you didn’t actually write it all down, but you still had a bunch of big ideas, right? I didn’t cross much off my list. You probably didn’t either, did you?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s time to prioritize. I will help you.
Here is a straightforward and simple list of 3 important things you should do to ensure that your family will be safe and comfortable this winter:
1. Insulate your hot water tank. Making sure your tank is properly insulated will help it work more efficiently, which will prolong its life and reduce operating costs. It’s really easy to do, and it’ll save you money! Here are simple, step by step instructions.
While you’re at it, make sure the thermostat is set to a safe temperature. Most pediatricians recommend 120ºF. This temperature also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your hot water heater and pipes, according to EnergySavers.gov.
2. If your home has central air, make sure your furnace’s air filters are clean. Most experts recommend doing this every month, but this task is often neglected over the summer months. A clean filter maximizes your furnace’s efficiency and reduces operating costs. It’s easy to do (check out these simple instructions), it improves indoor air quality and it will help keep your kids from sniffling too much.
If your home has baseboard heating (like mine does), make sure each heater is clean inside. The internal fins inside a baseboard heater are great dust catchers, and that dust reduces heating efficiency. A quick vacuuming is all it takes to make sure they’re in good working order.
3. Seal air leaks. This can be a very expensive task, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply putting new weatherstripping around door frames can greatly reduce drafts and help keep the heat in. Putting up curtains can make a big difference as well. Sealing baseboard and ceiling air leaks with a caulking gun can help. Be creative and resourceful. Improvise. This article is a great starting point for sealing air leaks affordably.