6 Effective Ways to Make Homes Warm for Winter
It’s not too late to prep your home against the winter chill. Some are DIY, some require professional help, but all will create comfortable, energy efficient rooms for people to gather round the fire or play board games once the freezing rain and snow hits.
- Start with an energy audit. Professionals certified by the nonprofit Building Performance Instituteare trained to approach homes as a system, as opposed to focusing on one problem like thin insulation or a weak furnace. A BPI certified contractor can advise homeowners on what they can do themselves and what they should hire someone to do.
“They’re trained to look at how each component works together to optimize the efficiency of a home,” said Leslie McDowell at BPI. “If you insulate and weatherize the envelope – even if you have an older furnace – you can often end up purchasing a smaller new system because you’re not heating the great outdoors.”
People should consider taking the home quiz at www.bpi.org to get an estimate of what they’re currently spending and what they can save by making their homes comfortable and cozy for winter.
As far as financing goes, President Obama recently announced that any home with a Department of Energy Home Energy Score of six or greater will have an easier time securing financing to make home improvements.Also, a good resource for finding financing and rebates is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency or DSIRE.
- Air seal. Caulk and weatherstrip around windows, doors and chimneys. Some of this can be done by the homeowner, but proper air sealing goes beyond the envelope of the building to include duct work, which is often leaky and requires a professional.
- Insulate. Insulate walls, attic and crawlspaces. Here is an excellent Energy Star DIY guide to air sealing and insulating. Also, people should ensure they have properly and safely insulated outlets, which should be done by a professional.
- Address drafty windows. Homeowners with single-pane windows or faulty double-panes, should consider installing storm windows. A U.S. Department of Energy study found that Indowinterior window inserts reduced heating and cooling costs in a Seattle home by 20 percent. Commercial and residential buildings account for 41 percent of energy use in the United States. Windows are an important aspect of heat loss and gain and should be addressed in any weatherization program.
- Clean or replace the furnace filter once a month. Dirty filters can force furnaces to work harder, reducing their efficiency and efficacy.
- Install a programmable thermostat which will automatically turn down the heat when it’s not needed.