By Evan Vitale
The transition from summer to fall is the perfect time to make sure your home is ready for the coming change in weather. Ensuring your home can handle the cold season efficiently will reduce your utility bills so you can save money for the holidays.
Inspect/adjust your heating systems
Your heating system should be serviced every year to keep it working efficiently. Consider replacing your thermostat with a programmable one for even more savings. As the weather starts to cool, set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home and the water heater no higher than 120 degrees. Furnace filters should be replaced monthly once you start using it on a regular basis.
Be window wise
As much as 25 percent of your home’s heat can escape through your windows. The first thing to do after summer is remove and store any window air conditioners. If they can’t be removed, cover them both inside and outside to keep cold air out. Use weather stripping, caulking products, heat-shrink plastic sheeting, reflective window films, storm window kits and insulated drapes to make sure your windows and doors are as draft-proof and energy efficient as possible.
Bundle up your home
Besides sealing and covering up your windows, there are other things you can do to keep your home insulated from the outdoors. These include installing draft blockers for light switches and electrical outlets; using heat reflectors that fit behind radiators; and increasing the insulation in your attic, basement, and walls. You can also prevent warm air from escaping outside by closing off unused vents and closing the fireplace damper when not in use.
Lighten your energy load
As the days get shorter, your lights will probably be turned on for more hours of the day. To use less energy to light your house, replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which last longer and use 75 percent less energy. Other small things you can do to save money on lighting include cleaning lighting fixtures and repainting walls. These efforts allow you to have a brighter home with fewer lights turned on.
Don’t forget to schedule your annual furnace check-up before you need to start using it. Don’t wait until the snow starts flying or when the temperatures start falling before you start to bundle up your home for the winter months.