Now that cold weather has arrived, it’s time to think about saving on energy costs and ensuring your home is in good shape for the winter. With any house, little problems can become big ones while we’re not paying attention. So it’s always a good idea to attend to each of these annual maintenance tasks.
The first and biggest item on the list is to have your heating system serviced. This will make sure it’s clean, in good repair and running efficiently. You don’t want to wait until your heat pump fails on the coldest day of the year. It’s during extreme weather that repair services are busiest, which might make for an uncomfortable day or two while you’re waiting.
A related chore that you can easily handle yourself is to clean or replace your furnace filters regularly. The new, high-tech pleated filters typically need replacement more often, but even the old reliable fiberglass kind will block air flow, making your system work harder, as they accumulate dust.
Another easy trick to reduce heating costs and make your home more comfortable is to reverse your ceiling fans. The “winter” setting creates a gentle updraft, which moves heated air away from the ceiling and down the walls. You won’t notice the air moving, like you do on the “summer” setting, and your furnace won’t have to cycle on as often. This is especially helpful in rooms with tall ceilings.
Don’t waste money heating the outdoors. Be sure your windows and doors have good weather stripping and that any cracks around the frames are caulked. An easy way to find air leaks is to hold a lit candle near a closed door or window. Any draft will make it flicker.
For more energy-saving tips, see this article from September 2014.
If you have a fireplace, or other fuel-burning heating system, hiring a chimney sweep to inspect your chimneys and vents is an investment in your family’s safety. This will protect against fire hazards and possible carbon monoxide dangers.
Even though we’re fortunate to live in a mild climate, those inevitable cold snaps can cause damage if we’re not prepared. Now’s the time to be sure all exterior faucets are turned off and irrigation systems are drained so freezing water doesn’t burst pipes. If you have a pool, the pumps and other plumbing should also be drained or winterized.
Once fall is finished, and all the leaves, pine needles and other debris have fallen, take an hour or two and clear them away from your roofs, gutters and decks.
Clogged gutters that don’t drain will back up and damage your roof, siding and trim. Debris accumulated against chimneys and vent stacks can also trap water, causing rot, staining or roof leaks. When checking to be sure your roof is clean, also fix any damaged or missing shingles, and the flashing where roof meets walls or piping.
Cleaning leaves, dirt and pine needles from between the boards of wooden decks will thwart mold and mildew growth.
Finally, just in case: Before the inevitable snowfall or ice storm creates a slipping hazard on your front steps, walks or driveway, get a bag of rock salt so you’re ready. Cat litter, to create a non-skid surface on icy pavements, is another inexpensive but useful thing to get now and keep tucked away.
Most of us are doing seasonal decorating this time of year, anyway. So including this checklist as part of your holiday preparations is an easy way to guarantee peace of mind.
Michelle Clark is a broker with Intracoastal Realty, based at the Wrightsville Beach office. She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist, ALHS and also a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. Whether you are buying, selling, or investing, know that Michelle and her team will go the extra mile for you. To learn more about Michelle and Intracoastal, go to www.intracoastalrealty.com. You may contact Michelle at [email protected] or 910-367-9767. Like Michelle’s team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleClarkTeam.
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