Win­ter­ize be­fore the cold weather ar­rives

Now’s the time to take care of your heat­ing sys­tem, roof, win­dows and more

South Shore Breaker - - Homes - NANCY MAT­TIA CTW FEA­TURES

Ready or not, win­ter is on the way. Here’s your checklist to get your home ready for the cold and in­clement weather.

1. Clean out the gut­ters

When they’re clogged with leaves, twigs and other de­bris, gut­ters can cause the roof to leak or water to ac­cu­mu­late around the house’s foun­da­tion. In cold weather, that water may freeze and cause cracks in the foun­da­tion.

2. Get the fur­nace checked

A well-func­tion­ing fur­nace will work more ef­fi­ciently, won’t re­strict air­flow and will use less en­ergy, thereby re­duc­ing your heat­ing bills, says Frank Vetri, res­i­den­tial en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ex­pert for PSE&G, a di­ver­si­fied en­ergy com­pany head­quar­tered in New Jersey. An in­spected fur­nace also helps en­sure the health and safety of the home­own­ers. “When­ever you’re burn­ing some­thing, you’re cre­at­ing com­bus­tion, and you have the chance of cre­at­ing car­bon monox­ide, which is deadly.”

3. In­stall storm win­dows

If your home has older win­dows but you don’t want to shell out big bucks to re­place them with en­ergy-ef­fi­cient up­grades, in­stalling storm win­dows is a more af­ford­able op­tion. Storm win­dows can re­duce air­flow into and out of ex­ist­ing win­dows, which means you’ll save on heat­ing costs.

4. Re­pro­gram your ther­mo­stat

“The rule of thumb is that for ev­ery de­gree you lower your ther­mo­stat in the win­ter, you save about three per cent on your en­ergy and heat­ing costs,” Vetri says. If you’re com­fort­able, try low­er­ing it by five to 10 de­grees when you’re away dur­ing the day and when you go to bed. But don’t lower the ther­mo­stat so much that your pipes freeze. To find the sweet spot in your home, check with a lo­cal ser­vice pro­fes­sional.

5. Weather-strip your win­dows

An­other way to keep heat from es­cap­ing is to use weather-strip­ping around win­dows and doors to seal cracks that cause drafts. To seal small gaps and holes, use caulk.

6. Take care of out­door hoses and faucets

In win­ter, gar­den hoses can freeze and lead to burst pipes. To pre­vent such drama, dis­con­nect hoses and drain them com­pletely; then store in­doors so they won’t crack in freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. (Do not store hoses in the garage un­less it’s heated.) Next, turn off the water sup­ply line and turn on the faucet; let the ex­ist­ing water drain be­fore turn­ing the faucet off.

7. Move fur­ni­ture away from heat sources

If your sofa is block­ing the ra­di­a­tor or cov­er­ing the base­board, re­ar­range the fur­ni­ture so it’s not in­ter­fer­ing with the heat. Check that your drapes aren’t cov­er­ing any heat sources, ei­ther.

8. In­stall in­su­la­tion through­out your home

To keep your house cosy and en­ergy costs down, in­su­late your at­tic and ex­posed pipes. “The at­tic is where you’re go­ing to save the most en­ergy,” Vetri says. He rec­om­mends air-seal­ing it (fill­ing any open­ings or cracks so heat doesn’t es­cape) be­fore adding in­su­la­tion to the floor. In­su­la­tion is worth the ex­pense: “If heated air is leav­ing the top of your house at a rate that’s pretty fast, then your fur­nace has to turn back on again. If you can re­duce the number of times it has to turn on per hour, you’ll re­duce how much fuel you’re us­ing,” Vetri says.

9. Re­move or in­su­late win­dow air con­di­tion­ing units

Since you won’t be turn­ing on the AC when tem­per­a­tures start to dip, take the units out of the win­dows to avoid warm air es­cap­ing. If re­mov­ing them isn’t fea­si­ble, cover them and put weather strip­ping around any gaps be­tween the units and win­dow frames.

123RF

Ready or not, win­ter is on the way. Clean out those gut­ters.

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