MEMPHIS, Tenn. – With the threat of freezing temperatures in the forecast this weekend, it's important to take the time to “winterize” your home.
Here are a few cheap things to get done before the temperatures drop to 32 degrees:
Change your air filter
During the winter months it's very important to do this once a month, as dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand.
Set your ceiling fans to move in a clockwise direction
During the summer they run counterclockwise to cool. But most ceiling fans come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. As your home is heated, the warm air rises to the ceiling. The fan can then circulate it back into the living space—cutting your heating costs by as much as 10 percent.
Lower the temperature on your water heater
Most conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees, but most homes don't need that much steam. Lower the temperatures to 120 degrees to reduce your water heating costs by 6 percent.
Seal up any drafts
Place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door. A draft can waste 5-to-30 percent of your energy use.
Take the time to insulate your pipes and cover any outdoor faucets
This will allow your hot water bill to stay low and help decrease the chance of your pipes freezing. You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape.
Taking these steps now will help keep your electric bill a bit under control during these upcoming winter months.
Below are additional steps you can take to get your home ready to deal with below-freezing temperatures throughout the winter months:
Install storm doors and windows
Sure– this is a bigger project, but this can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent, not just during the winter months, but also year around. Look for Energy Star-certified models. Federal tax credits are available at 10 percent of cost.
Give your heating system a tune-up
At first glance it sounds expensive, but the good news here is that many utility companies offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians. You may want to schedule that appointments early though, as HVAC crews typically get backed up once winter kicks into gear.
Put up some plastic
For just a few dollars, you can pick up a window insulation kit. When properly installed it is essentially invisible. Adding this buffer against drafts can give a nice boost to your home's ability to hold heat, thereby saving you money.
Use caulking and weather stripping
Look for places where two different building materials meet– corners, chimneys, etc. It pays to seal up gaps. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simple leaks can zap a home's energy efficiency by up to 30 percent a year.
This one sounds a bit simple, but it really is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. Adding an extra layer of insulation between walls, attic floor, and basement can make a big difference. Low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state.
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