Now that winter is starting to really take a toll on the South, it’s important that you take precautions to winterize your home for both safety and money reasons. For the most part, these winterizing steps are things you can do without the help of a professional. If you haven’t already started, see what you should be doing for your home this winter.
Most people don’t think to turn on their fan in the middle of a cold winter, but doing so can actually warm up your home and reduce your heating costs by up to 10%. Counterclockwise rotation will produce cool air, while changing the fan to rotate clockwise will produce warmer air by circulating the heat from your vents throughout the entire house. To do this, look for a switch typically located on the base of your fan and flip it the opposite direction. Just make sure your fan is turned off before you do this and remember to change it back when spring comes!
A dirty air filter will make your furnace have to work harder to heat up your house. If you haven’t changed your filter in the last month, replace it with a fresh one to experience better heating efficiency along with a possibly lower energy bill.
A programmable thermostat can help you all year long to keep your energy bill low and your home comfortable. A smart thermostat such as ones produced by Apple can learn your habits to know when to keep them room warm/cool enough for you and when to set the room at a manageable temperature for when the house is empty. If you aren’t ready to embrace such technology, you can get a programmable thermostat that will allow you to set different temperatures for when you’re home, asleep, or away.
As you might assume, water heaters have to work extra hard in the freezing winters to warm your water. To help it out, consider taking shorter showers and using cold water for your laundry. Also, you can save energy by lowering the temperature. Most water heaters are preset at 140 degrees, but in the winter, you can actually lower it to 120 degrees and not notice the difference except for on your lower energy bill. If you want to keep the water warmer at the lower setting, you can also wrap your heater in a blanket which can potentially keep your water at 10 degrees warmer than it’s set to be.
Unless you’re using your fireplace, keep your flue closed all the way to keep cold wind entering and hot air escaping. If you don’t plan to use it at all, you can also rearrange your furniture to cover the opening or install glass doors.
Especially during freezing temperatures, bursting pipes are a common problem. To prevent any pipes from bursting, disconnect and drain any outside hoses and turn off the water connected to them if possible. To keep your indoor plumbing warm, keep them exposed by opening your cabinets or wrapping them in towels for extra cold days. In case an emergency arises in which you think a pipe burst is imminent or happening, know beforehand where your water main is so you can shut it off.
Maybe you won’t actually see a blizzard here in the South, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t react to a flurry as if it were a heavy snow pileup. Since roads can get dangerous fast with the smallest snowstorm or post-rain freeze, make sure that your home stays stocked with non-perishable food items, water bottles, and plenty of warm blankets and candles in case you lose power.