Winter can be rough on residential properties and commercial buildings alike. Snow buildup and freezing temperatures can reek havoc on the structural integrity of your home or business and leave you to front the bill, which could potentially be in the thousands of dollars.
There are some quick and easy tips to prepare yourselves for the winter months ahead and winterize your home or business to ensure you are safe and saving money on costly heat bills.
1. Clean the Gutters
Autumn is by far my favorite season of the year, but with the sweater weather and pumpkin spice comes the leaves falling to the ground. Leaves build up in gutters around your house and can potentially clog your gutters from draining water.
Remove the leaves and other debris from the gutter prior to the winter season. Clogged gutters can form ice dams, which can lead to water seeping inside the building. While cleaning out the gutters, test them for leaks or misaligned pipes. Also ensure the downspouts are carrying the water away from the building foundation.
2. Block the Leaks
One of the best ways to save money on heating bills in the winter is to block any air leak in your building. On a windy day, walk around your house or office building with an incense stick and watch how the smoke changes courses when a draft is detected.
Check all doors, windows, recessed lighting, electrical outlets, and any other areas that could potentially leak air. Place door sweeps at your doors that have draft issues and use caulk or other methods to close off drafty spots. Seal outside leaks with weather-resistant caulk and masonry sealers on brick areas.
3. Insulate the Attic
One cost-effective way to save money on your heat bill during the cold season is to add insulation to your attic. It is recommended to have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic to keep heat inside.
4. Check the Furnace
Make sure your furnace is ready for the winter months ahead. Turn it on and check out how it heats the building. It is recommended to have a furnace cleaned and tuned annually, which costs roughly $100-125. Make sure to check the air filters too. The furnace should be ran at least at a low setting throughout the coldest time of the year, even if no one is there, to prevent pipes from freezing.
5. Check the Ducts
The U.S. Department of Energy says that a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if duct-work is not connected properly and insulated. Check any areas of exposed ducts for damage or anything that might impede air flow. Clean out the ducts if there are obstructions.
6. Cover the Windows
Storm windows are ideal to use in the winter months, but if you don’t have them and want to block a drafty window on the cheap, look into a window insulator kit. It’s basically a sheet of plastic that’s applied to your windows using tape or other methods. Although window plastic isn’t pretty looking, it can save you a lot of money on your heating bill over the winter.
7. Check the Chimney
It’s a good idea to check your chimney prior to the winter season. The price for a chimney sweep will only increase during times of need, specifically during the winter. You don’t want to be caught in a bind on the coldest day of the year when you need it the most.
8. Reverse the Fan
This is one that’s widely overlooked. Since heat rises, reversing your ceiling fan will push down the warm air and force it to recirculate. In the winter time, the ceiling fan should be rotating clockwise when looking up at it.
9. Wrap the Pipes
There’s nothing worse than a burst pipe caused by the winter freeze. To help prevent this from happening to you, make sure that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside the building and that the lines are drained. Insulate water spigots very cheaply using a Styrofoam cup and a screw attachment.
Go through all your exposed pipes and wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. Make sure to keep the water running slightly in your interior sinks and bathtubs on the coldest days of winter. This will ensure that the water isn’t just sitting in your pipes waiting to freeze.
10. Check the Alarms
Use this opportunity to go through all smoke detectors and check the batteries and working condition. Make sure your fire extinguisher is ready for action as well as house fires are frequent during the winter months.