Monday, November 7, 2011

New Theme: Novem-brrr

Hello folks- it's a new month, so that means a new theme! As winter starts to blow in, we will cover some green ways to prepare your home for the cold weather. Not only will we discuss ideas good for the earth, but also your wallet by lowering heating costs!

And to start things off right, here are some quick, easy things you should do before it gets too cold.

- Change the Air Filter
You should actually have your entire furnace checked every fall, but changing the air filter is key. It helps your furnace perform better, which means it needs less energy; and therefore, it reduces your monthly bill. It also helps the air in your home stay clean. Changing your filter should be a seasonal task, but a good reminder is when you need to turn the furnace on during chilly, autumn days.

- Reverse Ceiling Fans
During the summer, your fan rotates counter-clockwise to bring a breeze to your home. But in the winter time, your fan needs to rotate clockwise. Warm air naturally rises, but having your fan rotate the proper direction will improve air circulation and bring the heat down from the ceiling. And with the air evenly heated, your furnace will have to work less to heat your home. The Daily Green credits a ceiling fan rotating clockwise can save you 10 percent on your monthly energy bill.

- Caring for the Water Pipes
Pipes freezing and bursting with water is a huge problem that can be easily avoided. First, you'll want to tend to your outside water sources. Make sure the garden hose is completely drained. If you can, turn off the water to any sources that you will not be using during the winter months. For the hose bibs, turn off the inside valve, but keep the outside tabs open so if there is excess water, it can leak out.

As for pipes inside the home, if they are close to an outside wall, they need to be insulated. Insulating all your pipes will cut on your energy bill too, since it will take less energy to keep the water in the pipes warm. But another good way to prevent frozen pipes on a really cold night is to open up your cupboard doors under the sink to allow pipes access to heated air.

- Turn Down Water Heater
I love a nice hot shower as much as the next person, I don't think I need it as hot as most heaters are set at by installers. Also according to The Daily Green, most conventional water heaters are set to 140 Degrees Fahrenheit. The site also claims lowering the temperature to 120 degrees (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6-10%. Our water heater is apparently so old that there is not a temperature setting, just a warm and hot.

- Checking the Ducts
Your comfort in the summer or winter time depend on the air ducts in your home. And if your home is as old as mine, there is a chance that air is leaking from those ducts. Those leaks not only mean loss of air at valued temperature, but it means your air conditioner and furnace have to work harder (aka higher utility bill). So if you take the time to have a professional look at your furnace, might as well have one to check the ducts and vents of your home. Various studies show you could save up to 10% on your energy bill by fixing leaks.

One thing you can do outright is to check the vents in each room of your home. Make sure they are not blocked in any way. Make sure all the vents are open. As The Simple Dollar explains, closing the vents in an "unused" room really doesn't save you in the end.

So there you have it, 5 easy ways to prepare your home for the upcoming winter. Sorry if it seemed a bit boring and without many photos. Next week, I'll cover the ways you and your home can avoid the chilly draft.

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