“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” reputedly has around an 80 percent success rate when it comes to predicting the weather. With that in mind, it’s worth listening when the periodical says the 2014-2015 winter will be one of the coldest in recent memory. “Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” said editor Janice Stillman. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”
Assuming “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” is correct, which it often is, homeowners should use this information to prep their homes for the winter. Due to bitter cold and slippery condensation, the weather can cause significant damage to a home’s exterior. Inside a home, leaks can let cold air in, waste heat and raise energy costs.
Below are some helpful and easy-to-do home improvement tips to prepare your home for the upcoming harsh winter:
Although extensive insulation work could be costly, a great cost-efficient way to increase the heat efficiency in your home is by adding an extra layer of insulation between the attic floor and ceiling beneath it. When crawling up the attic, a good hint that shows you need more insulation is if you see the floor joists. Heat rises, so an extra layer of insulation in the attic can prevent the heat from escaping. Similarly, adding insulation to crawlspaces and your basement is another good way to save heat.
Declutter, Slowly and Steadily
Winter weather equals more time inside, which means a greater importance for indoor cleanliness and tidiness. A basic clean-up is too obvious to be a useful tip – and on the contrary you shouldn’t have to bulldoze through your rooms – but what many homeowners overlook is that they should focus on one room or area at a time when cleaning and organizing. January is Get Organized Month, so devote time after the holidays to go room-by-room, corner by corner and shelf by shelf, steadily tidying up as you go.
Get an Energy Audit, or Use an Infrared Thermometer
Energy audits aren’t too expensive; even with their price, an audit can save several times the amount in heat conservation. Hire a professional BPI-certified energy rater to inspect your home to see if there are any leaks that are letting heat escape. If an energy audit doesn’t fit in your budget, it’s possible to identify areas of need by using an infrared thermometer, which allows you to measure surface temperatures and detect problematic spots that need insulation.
Seal Can Lights
Some homes have can lights that are actually designed to let in ventilation to prevent the light bulb from overheating. This is understandable in theory, but can result in heat escaping. Try to seal can lights when possible; look for can lights directly below a roof and use an infrared thermometer or your hand to detect a leak. Once sealed, make sure to use a bulb that is not incandescent. Instead, opt for something like an LED recessed light, which is efficient and does not build up heat.
Run Your Ceiling Fan in Reverse
The good majority of ceiling fans have a switch or button that puts the fans in reverse motion, resulting in warmer air that pools near the ceiling, cutting heating costs by around 10 percent. This tip can literally take a minute to do, but save a house hundreds of dollars.
Winter may be coming, but that doesn’t mean that homeowners have to suffer through cold drafts and high energy costs. The five tips above will help conserve energy costs and keep homes warm and toasty throughout the bitter cold winter.