Stay Warm and Cozy with an Energy Efficiency Plan this Winter
When looking for ways to save money through energy efficiency, the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York offers a checklist for homeowners to review. It can help them safely prepare their homes for the cold winter months, and perhaps save a few dollars in the process.
According to the Energy Information Administration, home heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 10.2 percent for homeowners who rely on heating oil. Luckily, homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their homes before the harshest weather takes hold.
“Mother Nature is unpredictable and the winter months are upon us, so be sure to prepare now if you haven’t already done so,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York. “Winterizing your home can not only give you peace of mind, but may help you save money and be energy efficient as well.”
The following is a BBB home winterizing checklist for consumers to consult when preparing for the cold months ahead:
Furnace. Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. For newer furnaces, make sure the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is working properly and the pilot light is functioning. Homeowners can also hire an inspector to do the job and make sure the furnace is in safe working order. Remember to check out inspectors at www.bbb.org.
Chimney. Before lighting up the fireplace, homeowners should have the chimney inspected for animals, debris and leaves that may have fallen in. BBB also recommends installing a screen over the chimney opening. Be sure the firm is reliable and licensed as required.
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 allow the house to "breath" correctly. Otherwise, air will stagnate and create an unhealthy environment.
Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. BBB recommends testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and installing fresh batteries. Homeowners should consider replacing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors older than 10 years.
Caulking and Weather Stripping. To prevent leaks, homeowners should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, BBB recommends ensuring that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn weather stripping.
Seasonal equipment. Homeowners won’t need their spring and summer equipment for a few months, so BBB recommends draining the water from garden hoses and air conditioner pipes, and the gasoline from the lawnmower and other garden tools. It’s also time to pull out the snow shovels, plows, and snow blowers and ensure they are in good repair.
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. BBB recommends creating the same emergency kit for the car as well, including a couple blankets.
For more consumer tips this holiday season, visit www.newyork.bbb.org.