With winter just around the corner, now is a good time to start preparing. These simple steps can save you on energy and utility bills.
- Tune up your heating system. For as little as $100, you can contact a professional heating and air conditioning technician to test your heating system. Doing this before cold weather starts will keep you ahead of the masses once we get our first snow. These technicians will also check for carbon monoxide leaks. It’s always good to do your homework on these technicians before just picking one out of the phone book. Talk to neighbors and friends and look the company up on the Better Business Bureau website or simply on the Internet.
- Reverse your ceiling fans. This is a great way to push down the heat in any room. With the fan going in reverse, it pushes down the heated air because as you know, heat rises. You may even see a change in the temperature and perhaps be able to turn down the heat. This will save you on your heating bill.
- Prepare your mower for winter. Leaving fuel in the mower all winter will cause the fuel to decompose. Check the owner’s manual on cold-weather procedures. You can always add a fuel stabilizer to the mower, fill the tank full, and run the mower for about 10 minutes to make sure the fuel stabilizer has run through the entire engine. This will help the mower and give you a fresh start once spring comes around.
- Check the roof. Go up and check to see if you have any missing or damaged shingles. Check the seals around vents and vents stacks. If need be, hire a handyman to repair any damaged shingles or broken seals.
- Hire a chimney sweep. If you have a fireplace and you burned a lot of wood in the winter prior to this one, you need to make sure there are no defects in the fireplace. An inspection by a chimney sweep costs between $50 and $100, and most problems can be repaired for less than $300. Again, do your homework, talk to friends, and check the Better Business Bureau website for complaints or for good reviews, as well. Having your fireplace checked before winter is a great way to ensure the safety of your family from any fireplace mishaps.
- Restock winter essentials. This means salt or ice melt. Get ahead of the crowds and be well-stocked before the rush on these items. If you have one, check to make sure your snow blower is properly maintained and ready to work. Again, doing this ahead of time will definitely save you time on beating the crowds.
- Check your sump pump. Pour water into the hole where the sump pump is located to see if it triggers the pump to start working. If not, you are ahead of the masses. At one time or another, we all know someone who had to go to the hardware store to purchase another sump pump when the store was out of stock. So that meant driving to another store in possibly bad weather only to be turned away because they sold the last sump pump 5 minutes ago. Checking the sump pump will keep your anxiety level to a minimum, and watching as everyone else runs to the hardware store may bring a slight smile on a cold winter day.
- Clean the gutters. Cleaning the gutters will prevent ice dams as well as water back-up into the interior of your home. You can usually find a handyman for about $100 an hour to get this done. Or if you are not afraid of heights, doing this yourself will save you headaches through winter. While you are cleaning the gutters, check for fascia boards that may be damaged or in need of repair.
- Divert water. Add extensions to your downspouts. This will pull the water away from your foundation and prevent leaky basements.
- Drain all exterior faucets. As we all know, pipes will freeze in the winter unless properly maintained for weather. Make sure you drain all water hoses and store them for the winter. You can always use the shut-off valve to the exterior water after you drain the faucet.
Preparing with these easy steps will save you time and money. Using these tips can also keep you from having to make an insurance claim, as well.