REAL Services provides weatherization to eligible homeowners in the Michiana area. Find out if you’re eligible now.
While this time of year is more closely associated with the demands of holiday shopping and meeting the standards of soon-to-be-set New Years’ resolutions, there’s another checklist you should be aware of as the temperature continues to drop: the steps it takes to winterize your home.
This isn’t a process to delay because the sooner you and your home are prepared for frigid temperatures and inclement weather, the sooner you can start to save money on your utility bill and have the reassurance that you can handle any winter-related emergency that may come your way.
Here are several steps and tips you can use to start the weatherization of your home.
1. Look for small holes and crevasses in walls, floors, ceilings and around windows
The first step in making sure your home is prepared for the winter weather is to see if your home is properly insulated.
“The standard, no matter if it’s electric or if it’s gas (heat), is to make sure that any kind of leaky windows and cracks are sealed,” said Adam Combs, the Director of Weatherization at REAL Services in South Bend.
Any unwanted openings in your home can lead to heat escaping, which can decrease the temperature of your home and increase your utility bill.
While specialty equipment is the most efficient way to detect holes and cracks, you can also use incense or another non-toxic and safe smoke to see where air is able to escape.
2. Seal holes and cracks
Once you’ve discovered where your home is exposed to the outside world, you can start sealing it up.
You can use caulk or another type of sealant to accomplish this yourself and be sure you don’t miss a single crack.
3. Close crawl space vents
Something people often overlook in the winter is their crawl space. While this area of your home may be great for storage, it can also expose your home to the outside world.
Crawl space vents are there to keep moisture out in humid summer months, so there’s no need to have them open in December.
4. Keep the temperature of your home consistent
“Keep your thermostat at a steady temperature,” Combs said. “If you’re jumping from 67 to 73 to 71 degrees, your house is going to take a lot more energy to get it where you need it. Set it and leave it.”
However, if you have a smart thermostat that adjusts the temperature of your home at certain times, that’s fine. They change the temperature in an efficient manner, which is not the case when you do it manually.
5. Change furnace filters
It’s easy to forget that your furnace has filters that need to be changed somewhat regularly.
By changing out the filters, you can help make sure the air is clean in your home.
6. Use appropriate space heaters
If your house isn’t properly heated, you may want to get extra space heaters, but be sure to only buy one that’s appropriate for inside use.
Every year, people become ill or even die due to space heaters that emit carbon monoxide or other toxic gases that aren’t safe to breathe in, especially when confined in your home.
7. Have the necessary equipment for winter months
If you know your driveway gets icy, buy road salt ahead of time and keep it handy near the front door or in the garage. That way, it’s easier to apply it when snow falls or the temperature drops.
Also, check to make snowblower and shovels are in good condition. That way, you can clear your driveway at a moment’s notice.
8. Keep extra blankets handy
If for some reason your power goes out, you’ll need to stay as warm as possible. You’ll want extra blankets handy to wrap yourself and loved ones it.
When your power does go out, it’s important to confine yourself to one or two rooms, and blankets can also be used to help seal off doorways to trap precious heat.
It’s also important to refrain from drinking alcohol in these situations, as that can make it difficult for your body to regulate its temperature.
Need help weatherizing your home? REAL Services’ Weatherization Department can assist local homeowners who meet eligibility requirements with weatherization. They have the tools and staff to efficiently seal up your home and make sure it’s ready for the winter months by reducing the amount of fuel it takes to heat your home.
“Our last prism numbers were at around a 30% reduction,” Combs said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean a 30% reduction in the bill because the price goes up and down, but a 30% reduction in the use of what other whatever fuels your home uses.”