Winterize your home to save money & energy

It might feel like we’ve just started enjoying fall, but the snow will be flying before you know it. Be ready for anything with these handy tips.

Get your chimney standing tall

Is there anything better than a nice, cozy fire on cold winter nights? Before you light that first winter blaze, it’s important to make sure your chimneys are clean and clear.

  • Burn chimney cleaning logs. Creosote is a toxic by-product of fire that builds up in your chimney over time. It is highly flammable, increasing your risk of a chimney fire that could spread to the rest of your home. Chimney cleaning logs help loosen creosote buildup and convert it to harmless ash.
  • Check the exterior. Check the outside of your chimney for wear and tear on the waterproofing, mortar, and flashing, and make sure your chimney cover is snug. Leaks in any of these areas can lead to mold buildup and structural damage.
  • Clean out debris. Critters love chimneys. Make sure any nests are removed before that first fire.
  • Check your damper. Before you light that first fire, make sure the damper is functioning properly and can fully open and close.
  • Call a sweep. Even if you do your own chimney maintenance, hiring a chimney sweep every few years is a good idea. They will inspect the chimney from top to bottom for soundness and clean any creosote that has built up. Generally, have your chimney swept after every 50 burns.

TIP: always make sure the damper is open before lighting a fire! When you’re not using your fireplace, keep your damper closed.

Tune up your furnace

Just as it’s important to have your central air unit serviced each Spring, the same advice applies to getting a furnace tuneup before winter.

  • Test your thermostat. Before the cold really hits, make sure your furnace kicks on. If you don’t hear air blowing through the vents within a few minutes, check to make sure the wires connecting the thermostat are intact and the batteries aren’t dead. If it still doesn’t engage, you’ll likely need a service call.
  • Reprogram your thermostats. Switch your settings or reprogram them now for winter so the house is warmest when people are home and awake. Remember to take any schedule changes since last winter into account, such as returning to the office or kids going back to school.
  • Change your filters. You change your car’s oil regularly to keep your system running clean; furnace filters are no different. Dirty filters shorten the life of your system, increase your maintenance costs, raise your heating costs, and blow dirty air through your vents.
  • Inspect your exhaust pipe. Look around your furnace for a large, hollow pipe. It carries the exhaust from the furnace to the outside of your home. Small cracks and holes can be patched with foil tape. Big holes or corrosion should be handled by a professional.
  • Schedule a house call from a pro. A qualified HVAC tech will do things like clean out rust and dust buildup, check for and replace worn or wearing parts, check for carbon monoxide leaks, and replace your filters. This can prolong the life of your furnace, increase efficiency, and ensure that warranties remain intact.

Seal out drafts

Drafty windows and doors allow cold air to enter your home and drive up your heating bills.

  • Put up your storms. The newest storm windows will take care of most drafts and increase the R-value of your windows. If your storms are older or missing, sealing cracks will still help a lot.
  • Seal up drafty windows. If you have older windows, seal up the drafts. For best results, check and seal all your windows, not just the draftiest.
  • Check weatherstripping. Plastic weatherstripping will degrade overtime. Check and replace any that is cracked or peeling.
  • Use draft stoppers. For bigger gaps in window sills or under doors, draft stoppers can prevent cold air from getting in. These are fabric tubes filled with dense materials placed at the base of doorways and windows.
  • Fill in small cracks. If you’ve got hairline cracks in the windows, you can use clear nail polish to seal them up. Just make sure you don’t use this tip on any windows with a coating, as the nail polish can harm it.

Reverse your ceiling fans

Finally, if you set your ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise in the Spring, it’s time to flip that switch back! Running the fan clockwise will push hot air down and into the room.

Save even more with IMU rebates!

IMU offers energy efficiency rebates on new purchases of the things that keep you cozy through the cold season, like programmable thermostats and insulation. Call Customer Service at 515-961-9444 to see how IMU can help you be more energy efficient and save money now AND over time.

 

***Energy Savings Infographic courtesy: visual.ly