Prepping Your Home For Winter Weather
Despite the relatively mild winters we normally experience in Texas, there is still a need to prepare your home for whatever inclement weather we may get. Even in our tepid climate, your home can still lose energy due to inefficiency and improper upkeep. We've got a guide to help you mount a good defense for any weather that winter might throw your way.
Prepare Your AC/Heater
Even though your heater may not see quite as much use as our neighbors in northern states, it’s still prudent to make sure your heating system is ready for use.
1. Change your filter — A clogged air filter is the most common culprit for HVAC malfunctions. Changing your filter will not only keep your heating and cooling system working properly, but it will also keep it running efficiently. An efficiently running system will also save you money.
2. Test your heater — Don’t wait for a very cold day to find out your heater isn’t working. Start your heater before the cold really blows in. If you wait until a cold front comes in before you find out your heater doesn’t work, it will likely be days until a technician can come out to fix your problem.
3. Service your unit — Dust and debris can collect in your heater from months of nonuse. This can cause your unit to run improperly and inefficiently. This includes ductwork that can be clogged, torn, or kinked. Call a professional for routine maintenance before cold weather hits.
4. Replace your thermostat — If your thermostat is old and out of date, it may be causing your heater to work harder or work when it’s not needed at all. Consider upgrading your thermostat. The newer models can save you money on your heating and air conditioning bill and can even be controlled by your smartphone.
Conduct an Energy Assessment
A professional energy assessor with industry credentials can provide a thorough energy assessment of your home. Their services can tell you where in your home you are losing heat, cool air, energy, and ultimately money. Their services include using things like a blower door (a machine used to measure the airtightness of doors), infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers. The advantages of using professionals are that they can provide you with a report of your home along with actions you can take to reduce your home's energy use while increasing comfort of the living space.
If you’d rather save money, you can conduct your own energy assessment. A do-it-yourself assessment will still allow you to pinpoint some of the easier areas to address. The Department of Energy offers a useful guide to do your own home energy assessment. Their guide covers subjects like ventilation, insulation, lighting, appliances, and more. Don’t forget to check your windows for leaks.
Wrap Your Pipes
A winter storm can happen fast and the outside of your home needs to be prepared as well. This is especially true for your pipes. Now is the best time to stock up on supplies for wrapping your pipes. Your local hardware keeps a good supply of faucet covers and protectors, but they tend to fly off the shelf in the days before a freeze. If you wait too long, they’ll be gone, and your pipes will be vulnerable to bursting. Freeze protectors only cost a few dollars each and save you lots of time, trouble, and treasure down the road.
Prepare Your Sprinkler System
Underground sprinkler systems can be severely damaged during a freeze which will cost you money and can cause harm to the environment. Learn how to prepare your system for the winter.
Clean Your Chimney
If you have a wood burning fireplace, it’s recommended that you have it inspected and cleaned out by a professional every year. Chimneys can get a creosote buildup which is a heavy, thick, oily, tar-like residue that's a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote can combust and start a fire in your chimney, possibly destroying your house. These fires are characterized by loud cracking or popping noises and a lot of dense smoke from the flue, but often go undetected by the homeowner until it’s too late.
Want more seasonal tips to save energy during the winter? Read about our tips on how to stay warm that don’t require cranking up your heater.