Every year the debate is the same. Some of your friends and colleagues are going on and on about how much they hate winter. You, being the positive thinker in the group, say how much you love it! Bring on the snow, you say! I applaud your winning attitude! The world needs more people like you.
If you own a home though, the best attitude in the world doesn’t relieve you of a few important chores that will help your house shrug off those cold months with the same aplomb. Take a Saturday and knock out these five little projects. You’ll be glad you did.
1. Seal It Up
One of the most important and effective things you can do for your home in a cold climate is to make sure it is sealed up tight! Check these:
- The seal around your exterior doors. Especially the threshold. Replace the rubber seals as needed.
- The seal around your windows. Caulk inside and out, and make sure your windows are operating properly so that they close up tight. If you’re thinking of new windows, now is a great time before it really gets cold!
- Other penetrations in the house. Dryer vents, roof vents, kitchen exhaust, etc. Go over the exterior of your house with a fine-toothed comb and seal up those openings.
2. Replace Your Filters
If you have a ducted heating system such as a heat pump you have a filter to change. Presumably you’ve been keeping up with this monthly all year ‘round, but if not you should certainly attend to the filter replacement before the coldest months. A clean filter lets your system operate much more easily and more efficient. This reduces your heating costs and extends the life of your equipment.
3. Automate Your Climate
There are a number of modern connected thermostats that can greatly reduce the load on your heating system through a number of methods. The Nest thermostat is the most well-known, but it’s not the only option. You can set up these connected devices to turn the heat on only when you’re home or when you leave the office or whatever works best for you. The benefit in dollars and cents comes from you not needlessly heating the house when you’re not home.
A word of warning though: Pay attention to the cost of getting the house from cold to comfortable. Depending on how long you’re normally gone and how well insulated your house is, it can actually cost more to warm it up than to let it stay warm all day long. The dog agrees with this logic.
4. Bundle Up
In the summertime, we get used to laying around in shorts and t-shirts. It’s comfy and easy. But in the winter months it makes sense to bundle up more and run the heat less. A couple of sweaters and some good wool socks cost less than the difference between 67 degrees and 70 degrees on the thermostat.
5. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
If you expect an extended cold snap and don’t anticipate needing to cool your space down anytime soon, then it’s worth the effort to reverse your ceiling fans. You just climb up there and take all the blades off of your fan and turn them around ... No, not really. All you do is flip a switch on the side of the ceiling fan motor while the fan is off. Next time you turn it on, it will go the opposite direction, pulling cooler air up and forcing the warm air near the ceiling to be displaced, keeping the room warmer.
These are just a few simple tips and I should say I’ve never lived through a winter in Alaska or anywhere like that, so there may be an entirely different list for extreme cold. But for most of us, these simple steps will make you more comfortable and save a few bucks in the process!