Connecticut winters are gorgeous and, of course, very cold. There are some steps you can take that could help lower your energy costs by creating a more perfect seal against frigid temperatures. You may also need to do some fireplace & chimney maintenance that will help prevent damage to your home. See the first part of this series for safety tips and the following for other suggestions that will help you prepare for winter.
Be sure to remove autumn leaves from your rain gutters and repair any damage you find. It may be necessary to tighten the fit of the gutter against the house.
Prevent Icicles and Ice Dams
If ice dams created a backup of melt water in your home last year or if you had a lot of icicles around your house, there are steps you can take to prevent these things from happening. What causes ice dams and icicles is a difference in temperature between the roof and the eaves, caused by air leaking out of the home. Additional attic insulation may be needed, or the chimney flashing may need to be sealed.
Repair the Roof
As needed, replace loose, damaged, or missing shingles. If there is any question about the ability of your roof to withstand a heavy accumulation of snow, seek the advice of a trusted professional.
Seal Doors and Windows
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10% of the air that leaks from a home seeps out through the windows. There’s no question but that making your home more efficient at keeping cold air out and warm air in will save you money on the cost of utilities. Apply caulk as needed around door frames and window frames. Consider installing storm windows, to do an even better job of creating a barrier against the cold. If you can see daylight when you look at your doors from the inside, add weather-stripping.
Insulate Switch Plates
According to experts, 2% of the air leaks from your home escape through electrical outlets and switch plates. Insulate your outlets, which is simple to do and inexpensive.
Plug Hidden Leaks
About 30% of the winter air that makes entry into your home gets there through the holes where pipes, vents, and electrical conduits run through walls, ceilings, and floors. Check for such gaps around pipes in the basement and under the bathroom and kitchen sinks and seal the gaps with insulating foam sealant. For small gaps, use caulk.
Protect Plumbing Pipes
Take steps to prevent freezing, bursting plumbing pipes. There are different ways to insulate your pipes, and a handy new way is to install foam tubes around your pipes. These tubes have a slit on one side that allows you to push the tube over the pipe. Some have self-adhesive edges; for those that don’t, seal the foam tube with duct tape.
Add More Insulation
If there isn’t at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic, add some more, since a foot of insulation is the minimum recommended by experts. The change will pay for itself in the long run, by helping to lower your energy costs.
Reverse your Ceiling Fans
When the warm air from your cozy fireplace rises, use a reversed ceiling fan to push the warm air back down to your living space.
As mentioned in the first part of this series, getting your chimney cleaned and inspected is an important safety issue. Give us a call today for all of your venting needs, as you prepare for winter.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110