Now that temperatures are starting to drop and showers are upon us, have you had a chance to prepare your home for the season ahead? If not, early November is still a good time to get your home “winterized” before the cold settles in and and winter storms take hold. Follow these tips to safeguard your home, protect your family and stay comfortable this winter while saving money and energy:
Get your rain gutters cleaned: Although you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your rain gutters and downspouts, your gutter system plays an essential role in preventing water-related damage to your home by keeping rainwater flowing away from it. When your gutters are clogged with debris, water can start to back up and ice may build up on your roof. This puts additional stress on your home and can lead to leaks, mold, infestation and structural problems. Before the heaviest rains head our way, take the time to clear out the gunk such as leaves, pine needles, twigs and shingle grit from your gutters and downspouts. In they are difficult for you to access yourself, it’s usually best to have them professionally cleaned.
Inspect your trees: Although many gardening experts advise against doing any major pruning of trees and shrubs in the fall, it is important now to check for any trees that could suddenly become problematic in a big winter storm. Take a look around your home for tree limbs or weak branches that could fall on your car or on power lines, and trim them if necessary. Also make sure any leaning trees are sufficiently supported and aren’t likely to fall when the ground becomes soaked.
Tune up your furnace: It’s a good idea to have routine maintenance performed on your furnace every year, and now is an opportune time to schedule it. If you wait until mid-winter, you may find it hard to get a busy technician out to your home. Also be sure to check your air filter regularly (maybe every four weeks) and clean or replace it if it looks dirty. By keeping your filter clean, you’ll improve the air quality in your home and help your furnace system operate more efficiently to save up to 15 percent on your heating bill. For instructions on cleaning or replacing your filter, visit http://bit.ly/HowtoCleanYourFurnace.
Have your chimney cleaned: Looking forward to the warmth and glow from a crackling fire come winter? Before you start up your fireplace this season, have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned. Not only does an annual cleaning improve the heating efficiency of your fireplace, but it also prevents soot fires and gas emissions in your home. Like HVAC contractors, chimney cleaning services tend to get busy during the cold weather months, so it’s wise to contact them now when they have more availability.
Remedy insulation issues: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing drafts in your home can potentially save you up to 20 percent of energy usage in your home per year. And now that the weather has gotten cooler, it will be easier to detect leaks coming from areas such as doors and window frames, lighting and plumbing fixtures, baseboards, etc., and seal them with caulk or weather-stripping. For help in how to find and fix energy leaks in your home, visit http://bit.ly/DoItYourselfEnergyAudits. In addition, you may want to consider replacing single-paned windows with more energy efficient dual-paned glass and adding extra insulation to your attic. For information on insulating your home, go to http://bit.ly/WhereToInsulateInYourHome.
Have you been putting off projects to get your home properly prepared for the winter due to a shortage of funds? A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) from SF Police Credit Union can get you the money you need to get them started before winter arrives! For full details and restrictions, or to apply, visit http://bit.ly/SFPCUHELOC.