There’s nothing like a beautiful Winston-Salem summer to make you forget about winter, but once the leaves start to fall along with the temperatures, reality starts to sink in. When it comes to extreme weather and extreme energy bills, it’s important to keep your home safe, comfortable and protected from the elements. Here are some great energy saving tips and some precautionary measures to help avoid costly or hazardous winter emergencies.
- If you’re planning a winter getaway, reduce energy costs and prevent frozen pipes by using the “vacation” or “hold” feature on your thermostat, set to a minimum of 55 degrees. Program the device back up to 68 degrees the day before you’re due to arrive.
- In addition to staying warm during freezing temperatures, keep your pipes warm too. Protect pipes in exterior walls, including those with supply lines adjacent to or in the garage, by wrapping them with insulation, specialized tape, rags or other insulating materials.
- Open cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms to allow the heat from your living space to circulate to your pipes.
- Never operate a generator indoors, including the garage or basement.
- Don’t overload outlets, and use extension cords with caution as they can become a trip hazard.
Home Safety Tips
- Staying warm during freezing temperatures through the use of a portable space heater requires vigilance and planning to prevent a fire. Allow a minimum of three feet of space around the unit, avoiding contact with wallpaper, bedding, drapes, furniture and other combustible items, and never leave them unattended or on while you sleep.
- Test smoke alarms and CO detectors, replacing batteries each fall when you turn back the clocks.
- Have the fireplace flue and all chimney connections inspected at the beginning of heating season and cleaned if necessary.
Energy Saving Tips
- Check insulation levels. Take a trip to the attic to see how much and what type of insulation is up there. Materials can settle over time and you may need to add more to increase the R-value. Experts recommend an R-value between R-38 and R-60, where each additional inch of thickness raises the R-value by three.
- Schedule preventive maintenance. One of the best methods of staying warm during freezing temperatures is by making sure heating equipment is cleaned, tuned and maintained before you even turn it on. Keep up with regular air filter changes yourself, aiming to replace the air filter every four to six weeks during peak heating season.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Set the unit to 68 degrees when you’re home and awake, and a few degrees lower when you’re asleep or away.
- Upgrade heating equipment. If your home’s current system is more than 10 years old, requires frequent repairs, or costs more to operate each year, consider upgrading to a newer, high-efficiency system to increase savings and comfort.
- Seal and insulate ductwork. Leaky ducts can account for up to 20 percent of your monthly energy bill, lower indoor air quality, and decrease comfort. Visually inspect all exposed ductwork and seal cracks or breaks with foil backed tape or duct mastic. Wrap exposed ductwork that runs through unconditioned spaces such as the attic or crawl space to prevent heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
- Harness the power of the sun. Open window coverings on sunny days to allow the sun to help heat your home. Be sure to close them once it has set to keep that same heat inside.
- Bundle up. Instead of overriding the setpoint on the thermostat and increasing energy usage, throw on a sweater, cozy up with a blanket, or slip on a pair of warm socks instead.
- Seal air leaks. Prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from entering by sealing leaks around doors and windows and using caulking or weatherstripping where needed.
- Increase circulation. Check supply and return vents to ensure they’re open and free of obstruction from furniture, plants or drapes.
- Change directions. Flip the switch on ceiling fans to change the direction of the blades to spin clockwise. This creates an updraft, sending warm air that has risen toward the ceiling back down to the living space.
For more energy saving tips on staying warm during freezing temperatures, or for any HVAC concerns, give us a call at Logan Home Energy Services. We’ve been providing top quality service to homeowners in and around the Winston-Salem area for over 65 years.