We’re fortunate in California to avoid the long, harsh winters people in other parts of the country suffer through. Nevertheless, as winter approaches, there are several ways to prepare your home for dropping temperatures that will keep the cold out, the heat in, and lessen the chances of unforeseen problems popping up.
These cost-effective tips can also put some money in your pocket with a reduced energy bill:
- Clean your gutters so that leaves and other debris aren’t inhibiting the flow of water, which can lead to frost and ice buildup.
- Flush the water heater. Particles and sediment can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit’s efficiency. Flushing the water through the drain valve clears out material and keeps the unit functioning at its best.
- Ceiling fans can be a budget boon during the heat of summer, but they can also help during winter: Having ceiling fans rotate in a clockwise direction will push hot air from the ceiling toward the floor. You will be losing some heat that has risen if they move counterclockwise.
- Use draft guards. If a door doesn’t have a proper guard at the bottom, it’s likely a lot of heat is escaping that would otherwise be warming your house and saving you from cranking up the heat.
- Replace filters. Regularly changing out filters in your central air and heating system can significantly improve its efficiency and longevity while also improving household air quality.
- Weatherstripping tape can eliminate air leaks around windows and doors that boost your heating costs.
- Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save up to 1% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature during the winter. A programmable thermostat saves money by keeping the temperature down when you’re not home.
- For added insulation in siding, windows, and doors, use caulking on the outside to fill cracks and gaps.
- A chimney can be a huge source of heat loss. If it’s not in use, plug it up with a chimney balloon that stops that heat from escaping.
Although these DIY projects can go a long way to keeping you warm without a huge energy bill, some larger jobs—checking the attic, walls, and basement for adequate insulation; installing dual-pane windows; or having your roof inspected for damaged shingles and cracks—are best left to a professional. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board regulates general building contractors along with those in specialty fields. You can check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.