Winter is officially only a couple of days away but this morning, almost all of Colorado woke up to a blanket of snow and very cold temperatures. While I normally despise the snow, I welcomed it because Colorado has been so dry this year and because it’s the holiday season.
But if you aren’t prepared for these wintry months ahead, you could pay the price. According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Colorado families spend an estimated average of 10 percent of their after-tax incomes on energy. Luckily, homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their homes before the harshest weather takes hold.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a checklist for homeowners to safely prepare their homes during the winter months and perhaps save a few dollars in the process.
- Caulking and weather stripping. To prevent air leaks, homeowners should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, ensure that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn down weather stripping.
- Furnace. Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. If the system is to be replaced, estimates from contractors should include a full description of additional work required for the installation of ducts, registers, and electrical wiring, and repair of adjacent surfaces. For newer furnaces, make sure the filter is clean and the thermostat is working properly.
- Heating ducts. Ducts should be cleaned once every two years. Homeowners should also consider adding insulation to any exposed ductwork in order to prevent losing heated air.
- Windows. Window screens should be taken down and replaced with storm windows; they provide an extra layer of protection and keep the house warmer. Investing in a window insulator kit is an inexpensive option to keep out drafts as well. If it’s time for all new, energy-efficient windows, start by looking for products that carry the Energy Performance Ratings label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The label can help determine how well a product will perform its key functions – helping to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, keeping out wind, and resisting condensation.
- Emergency kit. When a winter storm strikes, an emergency kit should have all essential materials in one handy place. An emergency kit should include flashlights, candles and matches, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio. Create the same emergency kit for the car as well, including a couple of blankets.
- Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and installing fresh batteries. Homeowners should consider replacing smoke alarms older than 10 years.
- Gutters and ridge vents. Gutters should be cleaned to prevent any clogs that would cause rainwater to back up and freeze, making the gutters expand and crack. The ridge vents need to be cleaned as well in order to help prevent stagnate air.
- Trees. Prune trees and shrubs with particular attention to branches that could possibly break causing damage to structures, cars, and passersby.
Go ahead – do what you can from this checklist. You’ll be cozy, safe, and hopefully saving some money!