Regular home maintenance is something that every house requires if you want your home to continually provide comfort, safety and security – all without hurting your finances. Prepare now while the weather is still comfortable. If you wait until it turns cold and you notice your home is not maintaining a good comfort level, you will end up having to fight the elements. This means that before the winter season really kicks in here in San Antonio, you’ll want to take the following steps in order to keep your home comfortable and protected against the harsher than normal elements, as well as keeping those energy bills from skyrocketing.
- Clean out your gutters – The winter is a time of year in which many places around the country will experience rainfall or snowfall. This means that you’ll want to make sure that your gutters are not clogged. You’ll want to do this by removing all dirt and debris from your gutters and rinsing them down. This will allow rain to easily drain and for snow to drain once it melts. If your gutters remain clogged, then rain and snow will just sit there. This can lead to water leaking into your home and causing all sorts of damage to both the structure of your home as well as your home’s possessions.
- Add or improve your insulation – The importance of proper insulation cannot be overstated. Insulation will help to keep warm air from escaping your home as well as prevent cold air from sneaking in. Not only does this keep your home comfortable, it will help keep your energy costs down and prevent your heating system from overworking itself. You should insulate all of your walls and floors – especially if you have a basement. Don’t forget about the ceiling either. If you have an attic, then the last thing you want is for your warm air to rise up through the ceiling and into the attic. Not only are you wasting energy, but that warm air can cause snow that has collected on your roof to melt and leak into your attic, resulting in mold, mildew, water damage and more.
- Install a programmable thermostat – Once you have a programmable thermostat installed, you won’t believe that you were ever able to live without one. A programmable thermostat will allow you to set the thermostat to change to your desired temperature at different times throughout the day automatically. This means that you can have the heat shut off while you are away at work – thereby saving you a big chunk of change on your energy bills. You can also have the heat turn back on at a specific time right before you come home from work – so you don’t have to wait for your home to warm up while you are at home!
- Fix any air leaks – Air leaks often result in your heating system being unable to efficiently warm up your home. This is obviously because the warm air your heating system is producing is simply escaping through these leaks. Checking for air leaks isn’t very difficult. Just light up an incense stick and walk around the outskirts of your home’s interior. Be sure to turn off all fans – and conduct this test during a windy day if possible. While walking around your home, you’ll be able to spot air leaks by the smoke of your incense stick. If it is drawn towards the wall, it means it’s being sucked out through a leak. Check around doors and windows as well as by outlets and recessed lighting. You can use caulking to plug up any air leaks, or you can have a professional come in and do it for you.
- Have your heating system checked – You should have your heating system checked by a professional HVAC technician at least once a year. Since most homeowners tend to make the most use out of their heating system during the winter, it makes sense to have it checked before the weather begins getting really cold. A technician will make sure that it is running properly and efficiently, ensuring that your energy bills won’t be higher than they should be and that your home will heat up to the temperature you desire (provided there are no leaks in your home and that it’s properly insulated).
- Replace your filters – An easy task that many homeowners often forget to do is to change their heating system’s filters on a monthly basis. Filters will trap and collect dust over time, which means that eventually they will be so full of dust that air will have trouble getting through – thereby making the heating of your home incredibly inefficient.
- Install storm windows – The windows are some of the more vulnerable parts of your home’s exteriors. Because of this, it’s a good idea to install storm windows. Storm windows will help protect your windows against extreme weather, such as wind or hail. Not to mention that they also help act as additional insulation, since they’ll help keep cold air out and warm air in.
- Check all of your alarms – Most homes have carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms installed on every floor. If yours doesn’t, make sure it does! You should also change the batteries once a year. Do this in the beginning of winter, when you’ll need them most. This is because you’ll be using your heating system more than usual, and you’ll want to make sure you and your family are protected against potential fires or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Once the batteries are changed, test each one to make sure that they are working properly.
- Have your chimney cleaned – If you have a fireplace that you intend on using, then you should make sure that your chimney gets cleaned. You’ll want to make sure there’s nothing clogging up your chimney, whether it’s debris from the fall, bird’s nests or errant Frisbees. If your chimney is clogged and you try to use your fireplace, you are going to end up with a home full of smoke.
- Reverse the direction of your fan – This is a step many people aren’t even aware of. Most ceiling fans have a small switch on their bodies that can be flipped in order to reverse the direction of the blades. By doing this, your fan will help push the warm air your heating system produces back down as it rises, helping to re-circulate the warmth throughout your home, thereby not only making you more comfortable but also helping to lessen the need of your heating system, which in turn will help you save money on your heating costs.
These are ten steps that you should take in order to prepare your home for the winter months, thereby improving your home’s comfort and safety while keeping your energy bills as low as possible.