The Point Loma Real Estate BLOG
Winterizing Your Home
When compared to the rest of the country, winters here in San Diego tend to be mild, but the cost of living is a different story entirely as San Diego consistently ranks high in the top ten most expensive cities to live in nationally.
While the very best heat saving measures tend to be the large ones like a major remodel to put in new insulation or installing energy efficient windows, it is actually very easy to winterize your home on a smaller budget.
Here are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that your home stays comfortable this winter without tanking your budget, while also helping to protect your most valuable asset for years to come.
Go Solar (The Easy Way)
Used effectively, the sun is actually amazingly efficient at bringing your winter heating costs down since it’s, well… totally free. The trick is managing and storing the heat from the sunlight. Here’s the key:
First thing in the morning, open the drapes on all of your Southern facing windows and let the radiant heat and sunlight pour in all day. Then at dusk, close the drapes up tight to trap the heat inside.
While this won’t make your home a TON warmer, every little bit helps, and the brightness will help trick you mind into thinking it’s even warmer than it actually is.
For even greater heat retention, consider getting and using heavier flannel (or similar material) drapes in the winter months to really lock in the warmth.
Speaking of windows…
Re-Caulk Your Windows
This sounds like a pain, but it really isn’t.
Head down to Home Depot, pick up a gun and some caulk, then check the cracks around your windows, patching as need. For around $30 and about an hour of your time, you stand to save a substantial amount on your heating bill by trapping all the warm air that is currently escaping through any cracks around your windows.
Once your done patching, it’s time to tackle the largest hole in your house that is probably letting out more air than all the window cracks combined: Your chimney (if you have one).
Check Your Chimney
While your fireplace is helping to keep you warm, it is also letting out a LOT of hot air if not used properly.
The problem is that when the chimney is not “in use,” it is essentially a giant heat sink allowing your expensive warm air to escape outside.
There are several options to tackle this problem including built-in and removable flue seals, as well as fitted doors and inserts. Chose your favorite, just remember to remove it before use.
ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR FLUE IS OPEN WHEN OPERATING YOUR FIREPLACE
You should also have your chimney inspected by a licensed contractor every few years just to make sure everything is in proper working order. You don’t want pieces of it falling off and hurting someone, or a stray spark escaping your arrestor and potentially burning down your house (or your neighbors’).
Check Your Heater System
Now that you have the house sealed properly, it is time to consider the main heat source itself: Your Heating Unit.
Lowering the thermostat only does so much, so let’s dig a bit deeper.
First and foremost: Change. Your. Filter.
Everyone THINKS their filter is fine, it probably isn’t. Modern filters are EXTREMELY good at what they do, and they fill up with debris FAST. You should change your HVAC filter AT LEAST once a year, twice if you run it daily.
Next have your unit inspected every 3-5 years by a licensed professional. They can often catch major problems before they happen to ensure you aren’t “left out in the cold” in the middle of winter. In this regard it is better to have this inspection done BEFORE it gets cold (think August or September) since by then EVERYONE will need the heating contractor to come by and it will take much longer to get service.
If you need some help with this, just email us at email@example.com and we can put you in touch with a reputable contractor.
In the worst case, you may want to install a new, more energy efficient unit. This will cost a bit up front, but with tax credits and lower heating bills, it should pay for itself in 3-5 years at the MOST.
You can take these savings a step further if you…
Install a Smart Thermostat
We were skeptical of these at first as well, but the data being collected seems to be proving that they are worth all the hype.
In addition to the basics of setting and keeping the desired temperature, these actually “learn” patterns in your usage and communicate with the newer heaters to drastically reduce your heating costs without you noticing any change in comfort.
They are a bit pricey, but not overly so, and again, they should pay for themselves quickly in saved heating bills.
Now that your heating system is operating as effectively as possible, you can take your savings even further if you…
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Fans can help to both cool AND heat a room.
By flipping the little switch on the side, you can reverse the direction in which the fan spins. This causes the fan pull the cool air in the middle of the room up to the ceiling where the warm air is, and then redistribute the newly warmed air back down the walls and into the center of the room.
Left on the “low” setting, this will help your heating unit out in a big way. Just remember to flip the switch again in the summer and your fan will go back to cooling the room instead of heating it.
Use a Humidifier
When it’s cold, it’s dry. So you use a humidifier to pump some additional moisture back into the air, saving your skin from being doused in lotion all winter.
But did you know that moist air actually retains heat better than dry air?
Now that humidifier is saving your skin AND your wallet by helping to lower your heating bills. Win, win.
If you found this article helpful you might want to get a jump on spring with our BLOG on Spring Homecare Tips
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