If you live anywhere in the United States that experiences regular seasonal changes (as opposed to irregular, we will define what I mean by this later), then you know that between August and December, climate in your region can experience anywhere from a 30-50 degree, or more, downward change. Those months in between are plenty of time for you to be thinking about ways to conserve heat in the winter months and keep your home warm.
Let’s face it. Current fuel costs in America are eating more and more into our monthly budgets and we are feeling the squeeze in many areas; from the rising cost of food due to high gasoline costs for shippers, to our gas tanks in our vehicles. Our home’s heat is no different, unfortunately. It would be great to live in South Florida or San Diego, where I have dubbed as experiencing irregular seasonal changes. People flock to beaches in some parts of California for Christmas and Fort Lauderdale’s low temperature in the winter months average in the 60’s and 70’s. As compared to Boston, or Chicago, or New York, or in the plain states like Missouri- where summers are hot hot and winters are cold COLD. BRRRRRRR!
Here are a few ways to ensure your home (And your pipes, especially, oh goodness, we must remember that not just the little ones’ toes and cute button noses need warmth in winter, but your home’s plumbing pipes need warmth too. They can and are known for bursting if the home is too cold for a long period, as ice accumulates inside, and a larger problem will be on your hands):
- When your home is cold enough to need the heat, should NOT be the first time you are turning on the furnace for the season. Test your furnace before you need it. Turn it on. Let the heat circulate and sniff for irregular smells, listen for irregular noises, and ensure your vents and radiators are working properly all before you actually need to use them. This is a good time to have your furnace serviced by a licensed professional. You can also use compressed air to spray the components of a furnace to remove dust particles. Do this also with vents and for radiator components.
- You should consider a maintenance plan with your heat supplier if available. You may qualify for low cost or free servicing, and low costs or free parts for your heating system if repairs are needed.
- CHANGE THE BATTERIES IN CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS. Or purchase carbon monoxide detectors if you haven’t any. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and invisible gas that can emanate from a furnace and with detectors on every floor (including in the basement) of the home, you can save your family’s lives from the deadly poison. Take this time, before your furnace will be running full time, to change the batteries in the detectors or purchase detectors. Better safe than sorry.
- Where are the drafts coming from? Search the home. You will probably recall which rooms were most drafty last winter season. Weatherproofing windows and doors will save you tons in heating costs. Most weather proofing is a DIY task. Rubber or felt draft blocking material for doors work well. Some doors require a door sweep or other material fitted underneath the door to help with the draft.
- Change out your screens in your screen doors for storm glass.
- Warm blankets and extra sweaters never hurt any of us! Add hot cocoa and I bet friends and loved ones may want to join you!