The rising cost of utilities has influenced many homeowners to choose alternate sources of home heating. However, the risks associated with these sources are a major contributing factor in residential fires. Keep these tips in mind if you are considering alternative heat sources or simply want to make safety your top priority when heating your home.
Because of the decline in the housing market, and thanks in part to the lowest mortgage rates in history, more and more people are choosing to refinance their home loan rather than move to a new home. Low rates can mean lower mortgage payments and bigger savings to your bottom line! All good news!
But one thing people seem to forget is that by staying in your current home, you’ll need to pay more attention to your home’s upkeep and maintenance. Chances are if your home is more than 10 years old it is in need of some winter weather maintenance to keep it in optimal shape. Here are some simple and easy things you can do to add to the life of your home while saving you money on energy bills in the long run.
Weatherproofing your windows and doors
The first place you should check when you begin to weatherproof your home for winter, is to check around your windows and doors for caulk that looks stiff or crumbly. If it is peeling, chipping or otherwise falling apart, it definitely needs to be replaced. Fortunately replacing weatherproofing caulk is easy and inexpensive and even the most ‘unhandy’ handymen can replace old caulking. Use a screwdriver or utility knife to remove the old caulk. Take care to completely remove all of the old caulking, and lay down a new bead of caulking in its place. Choose a brand of exterior caulk with a long lifespan, and use a damp – not wet – sponge to wipe away any excess.
Weatherproofing with weatherstripping
Another simple place to check when beginning to weatherproof your home is to check your weatherstripping. Weatherstripping is the flexible material that surrounds your doors or windows to protect against drafts. Typically the material is made from vinyl, but made be made from foam, cork, plastic or even in some cases metal. New vinyl weatherstripping will last longer and provides a much tighter seal than older materials. For doors and awning or casement style windows, open the door or window and remove the existing damaged weatherstripping and cut the vinyl strips to length, pressing firmly and tightly into place. Voila! You’re done!
Your home supply store will be able to provide recommendations on the appropriate size of weatherstripping for your job – adhesive-backed vinyl is typical for windows and doors while heavy duty stripping (for garages and such) may require nails and tacks. You may luck out if your home is a relatively new home, because then you can purchase pre-made threshold stripping to fit your doors.
Weatherproofing to avoid heat loss
Some homeowners, in lieu of installing storm windows and doors, add plastic sheeting to their windows to help stave off heat loss. This is a very inexpensive, and easy, way to help keep your warm toasty in the winter. Simply attach the plastic to your home’s window moldings and shrink the plastic using a hairdryer. This ensures a tight seal and a good fit for your windows. If your windows are in the least bit drafty, you’ll be surprised at how big of a difference weatherproofing your windows with plastic will make.
Another small change that can make a big difference is checking your outlets for drafts. Many homes, especially older ones, don’t have proper insulation around their outlets. Simply remove the outlet plating and check to see if you feel a draft. If you do, one quick way to seal up any drafts is to cut a sheet a foam to the size and shape of your outlet and place behind the outlet plate. This will help form a tight seal and keep out any drafts blowing through.
Weatherproofing your pipes
The cold weather can be incredibly hard on the plumbing in your home – especially when temperatures reach below freezing. To avoid your water freezing, or worse – your pipes breaking – you should have insulation protecting your hot and cold pipes throughout as much of the home as possible. The insulation will help your cold pipes from freezing and and bursting, while it helps protect your hot water pipes from thermal loss, making your electrical or gas consumption more efficient.
The easiest way to protect your plumbing against the weather is to install tubular-sleeve insulation. It comes in a variety of sizes and is incredibly easy to install. All you have to do is cut the sleeve to the length of the pipe you wish to protect and wrap it around the pipe! If you need more than one sleeve to cover a long pipe, make sure to duct tape the seam. Easy as 1-2-3!
Weatherproofing your home is something that can be done in a day! The investment may be short-term, but the rewards will definately be long-term! You’ll notice a huge increase in your comfort – and your wallet – once we’re in the thick of the cold winter months.