We just got our first real taste of winter weather here in New Jersey this month after a relatively mild December. Winter in New Jersey can be pretty unpredictable and it’s easy to let the cold weather catch you off guard. That’s why you should take a little time to winterize your home, if you haven’t already. Winterizing your home will improve energy efficiency, so you can keep your house warm and cozy without worrying about skyrocketing energy bills. Besides making your house more energy efficient, winterizing your home will protect your home from damaging snow and ice.
Here are a few easy ways to winterize your home that can be done quickly and inexpensively.
- Winterize air conditioners. If you’re like most, the last thing you’re thinking about in the winter is the state of your air conditioner. Still, unless you want hot air blowing in your face on the first hot day in spring, it’s important to winterize your A/C unit.
If you have wall units, it’s probably best to remove them entirely to prevent drafts. If you have a central air conditioner, be sure to take the following steps:
- First, cut the power. Locate the outside circuit, open the lid, and hit the switch. Don’t forget to close it back up.
- Clean the A/C unit and surrounding area. Rake away any leaves, remove debris, and hose it off. Make sure to let it dry completely.
- Cover the unit with a waterproof A/C cover or tarp and secure it with bungee cords.
- Seal off central air conditioning vents and ducts with mastic tape. DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE! Believe it or not, the one thing duct tape is not good for is sealing ducts.
Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if this process seems a little tedious or time consuming.
- Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Unfortunately, we see more house fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter than any other season. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
- Schedule a chimney cleaning. A roaring fireplace can make a house feel extra cozy in the winter and can even help save on electric bills. The trouble is that when smoke goes up a chimney, it leaves soot, ash, and creosote behind. This isn’t just dirty and unpleasant–it’s downright unsafe!
We recommend that you get your chimney inspected and cleaned out by a professional chimney sweep at least once a year. Neglecting this service can lead to soot inhalation, carbon monoxide leaks, and damaging chimney fires. Not to mention much costlier repairs in the future.
- Get those trees trimmed. The benefits of tree trimming go beyond aesthetics. Tree trimming also serves the purpose of removing dead or broken limbs before they can do any serious damage. This is especially true in the winter, when snow and ice can weigh branches down and cause them to break. Be sure to trim any trees that are near your house, walkway, and parking spots.
- Schedule a gutter cleaning. Clogged gutters can be a serious problem in the winter time. That’s because ice dams can form when trapped water freezes near the edge of the roof. These “dams” form when ice builds up over time and blocks melted snow from draining properly. The water then forms pools that slowly start to seep into your house and cause water damage. To prevent ice dams, make sure to have the dead leaves and other debris removed from your gutters. Clean gutters mean water can drain freely instead of backing up and causing damage.
- Install storm doors and windows. There are many advantages to installing storm doors and windows. Storm doors and windows can vastly increase energy efficiency in your home. They provide your doors and windows with an extra layer of insulation that helps prevent air leakage. Storm windows and doors don’t just lower the cost of heating your home. They also make it more comfortable by creating a seal that eliminates drafts. Best of all, there are federal tax credits available that can help offset the cost of having them installed.
- Check your insulation. Adding more fiberglass insulation in your attic can also prevent air leaks and increase comfort. Here in NJ, you need anywhere from 12 to 19 inches of insulation in your attic, and most homes don’t have enough. If you have less than the recommended amount of insulation, this winter may be a good time to add another layer.
- Wrap your pipes. Insulating your pipes will reduce heat loss and can even raise the temperature of your hot water delivered through your pipes. That means you can reduce the heat on your boiler and save more on your gas bill. Having your pipes wrapped with insulation will also ensure that you don’t have to wait quite so long for hot water when you take your morning shower. More importantly, it will prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting once the temperature drops.
Do you have any other home winterization tips? Be sure to share them in the comments!
Homeowner’s Hub Affiliates service the following NJ Towns: Maplewood, West Orange, South Orange, Millburn, Short Hills, Summit, Livingston, Montclair. Any of the home winterization services listed in this article can be scheduled directly from our Order a Service page.
Want more ways to save money and energy? Homeowner’s Hub offers a FREE home energy audit ($300 value) to subscribers!