Getting a home ready for winter is an annual fall event for most homeowners. The big items typically come to mind for most people interested in improving energy efficiency and lowing utility bills. Upgrading insulation, adding more caulk and replacing windows are all important considerations when preparing for another winter season. But there are also less obvious items that homeowners overlook that are easy ways to cut costs and improve home energy efficiency and interior environmental comfort. Here are few of the often missed items that are easy for homeowners to handle:
Ceiling Fan Direction
That switch on the side of almost every ceiling fan is important. It changes the direction of blade rotation. Check to make sure it is set on all fans to turn clockwise during colder months. This forces the air up and circulates warmer air back into the room. Set the fan to low speed so it just circulates warmer air that rises to the ceiling creating a gentle updraft. As always, keep in mind ceiling fans should be turned off when no one is in the room. They condition people not spaces. Find more info on ceiling fans at Energy.gov.
Clean Heat Pump Condenser
Most homes in more southerly climates and even many newer homes in the north have heat pumps. Keeping the condenser unit clean greatly increases the efficiency and lifespan of a heat pump. This can be hired out to an A/C repair professional but it is also an easy DIY job for homeowners. It typically only requires a screw driver, shop vac and a little know how. Tips and instructions are available on line from many sources. Here is a good one on the EHow Website. This task should be added to the spring cleaning list as well.
Hire A Chimney Sweep
Chim Chimery, Chim Chimery. Everyone remembers the lovable Dick Van Dyke character from Mary Poppins. But today’s professional chimney sweeps are an essential part of the team for homeowners who use wood-burning fireplaces. Fireplaces and chimneys that have leaks are less efficient for heating a home. Build up of soot and creosote can also be a fire hazard. Good fireplace maintenance practices will improve heating efficiency, keep a home safer and extend the life of the fireplace and chimney. Learn more and find tips on hiring a chimney sweep at the Chimney Safety Institute of America website.
Insulate Windows With Energy Saving Curtains
Insulated curtains can be a very effective method of keeping rooms warmer. Like cellulose insulation, insulated curtains actually help control all four four major types of heat lose (learn more about these on the CIMA website.) Adding quality insulated curtains to help control heat lose is a much less expensive solution than replacing older or inefficient windows. They are available from many sources online or at many major retailers. Insulated curtains also help to keep homes cooler in the summer. And bonus: most also greatly reduce light for a better night’s sleep.
Inspect Attic Insulation
Attics are the one of the biggest areas of a home where heat loss can occur. One easy DIY step almost any homeowner can do in their winterization preparation is to visually inspect attic insulation. In most cases, if the insulation is below the tops of the rafters it is time to update. Find more information about what to look for when doing a visual inspection. If it is time to replace or update, cellulose insulation is the best choice overall for high efficiency and environmental benefits. Blowing cellulose insulation in attics can also be a DIY project for homeowners. Another option is for the homeowner to handle the important preparation and then hire a professional to install the insulation. (See an example of a similar project.) Either way, improving attic insulation is a great way to reduce heating bills and offers one of the quickest returns on the investment of any major energy efficiency improvement.
Be sure to add these to your list of homeowner tasks every fall to be ready for the colder weather when winter arrives.