Old Man Winter is settling in for a long chilly season. Before the temperatures dip too far south, follow these simple guidelines to winterize your home and save money on utilities.
Inside Your Home
- Clean permanent furnace filters and replace paper or disposable filters.
- Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- If you have a wood stove or fireplace, have your chimney swept thoroughly. It should be cleaned before the soot build up reaches one-fourth inch thickness inside the chimney flue.
- Check your hot water heater for leaks and maintain proper temperature setting (120 degrees recommended by Department of Energy). On older water heaters with less insulation, for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower the temperature, you save 6 percent of your water heating energy.
- Check all windows and doors for air leaks. Install storm windows and putty, caulk or add weather stripping as needed.
- Make sure all vents are clean and operating properly.
- Clean and vacuum baseboard heaters, heating ducts and vents.
- Remove or winterize window air conditioning units.
Outside Your Home
- Store or cover outdoor furniture, toys and grill.
- Purchase rock salt for melting snow and a shovel or snow blower if you don’t already have one. Make sure you have the right kind of gas and oil on hand for your snow blower in the case of an unexpected snowstorm.
- Caulk joints and minor cracks on exterior walls and siding.
- Drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. Leave all taps slightly open.
- Insulate exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing but can’t be drained or shut off.
- Rake and compost leaves and garden debris, or put out for yard-waste pickup.
- Clean storm drains, gutters and other drain pipes.
- Check the foundation for proper drainage. To do this, spray yard with a hose to see if water runs away from the house. A little shoveling to reshape the earth next to the house may make the water run away from the foundation.
- Make sure dirt or piles of wood don’t come into contact with or touch siding, inviting termites and carpenter ants into the house.
- Seal driveway and walkway cracks, if needed, before ground freezes regularly.
- Inspect the roof for loose, damaged or missing pieces.
- Check attic vent openings for nests or other blockages.