Winterize Your Home: 10 Tips
Some homeowners perform their own energy audits. But professional home energy auditors use specialized equipment, which can give you information about potential trouble spots. To find an energy auditor, contact your state government energy office or local utility company.
- Research rebates and tax credits. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is putting billions of dollars into helping homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. If you have an old furnace or boiler or suspect that an energy audit might reveal ways you can save, now might be a good time to see if you qualify for any government perks.
Many states and utility districts also offer rebate programs and other incentives to help you conserve. To start your research, visit the website for your state energy office and local utility company.
- Breathe easy all winter long. Like a living organism, a house needs balance. A home riddled with leaks makes for a cold and expensive winter. But a house that’s too tight can lead to problems with indoor air quality.
“Sealing up a house keeps everything inside,” DeSoto explains. “People think they get drowsy after Thanksgiving because of the turkey, but all the carbon monoxide from using a gas range is going to stay in the house if it’s not vented (to the outside).”
- Conduct a radon test. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that’s considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., behind cigarettes. You can purchase your own test kit at your local hardware or home improvement store. You can also hire a qualified contractor to conduct a test for you. If your home proves to have elevated radon levels, you will need to work with a qualified contractor to reduce your levels.
- Curb the CO. Before winter hits, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace old batteries. If you cook on a gas range, use the fan on your stove hood, if it’s vented to the outside, to reduce your carbon monoxide exposure. Adjust your burners so you get a nice blue flame; a yellow-tipped flame produces more emissions. Has your furnace been inspected lately? Make sure to get an annual furnace inspection to ensure the safety and efficiency of your home heating system.
- Mind the mold. Mold can worsen allergies, trigger asthma attacks, and cause problems for people with compromised immune systems. The good news is that mold needs water in order to flourish. When showering, use your bathroom fan, if vented to the outside, and make sure any moisture-producing appliance (like your clothes dryer) is exhausted outside. By securing your home against leaks for winter, you’re helping to keep mold at bay.