The famous groundhog prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring yesterday when he failed to see his shadow, but that doesn’t mean we should turn off our heating systems and throw open the windows just yet. While we eagerly await the spring here in Northern Virginia, we should also stay focused on keeping our homes warm throughout the remaining winter days.
Here are a few ways to make sure that the warm air you’re using to heat your house stays inside where you need it (until Phil’s prediction comes true)!
Take a look at your insulation situation.
A well-insulated home is the best defense against energy waste. Keeping in mind that your home was built to code and codes change over time, it’s a good idea to perform a DIY energy audit to see if you have enough insulation to keep out extreme winter temperatures. Older homes, especially, may not be adequately insulated.
Start in your attic. You’ll want to make sure that openings for pipes, ductwork, and chimneys are sealed tight. If they aren’t, you can fill the gaps yourself using expanding foam caulk. Also check to see if there is a vapor barrier under the insulation in your attic. If there isn’t one, you can use a vapor barrier paint on your attic ceiling to prevent moisture build-up from damaging your insulation. On the attic floor, verify that you have as much insulation as is currently recommended. You can find current insulation recommendations here.
Check your basement or crawl space next. There should be insulation between that space and the floor of your living area. It may be prudent to insulate the space itself if you have heating or cooling units, plumbing, or air ducts in the basement area.
It can be difficult to check the walls in your living space for insulation. Inspecting your attic and basement should give you an overall sense of how well insulated your home has been, but a professional thermographic inspection can give you an accurate look inside your walls if you think there might be a problem.
Get up close and personal with your doors and windows.
Windows and doors can give the warm air in your home an easy way to escape. The weather stripping that surrounds each one is an important part of keeping the warm air in, in the winter. As we open and close the windows and doors in our home, it’s easy for the weather stripping to get worn, pull away, and fail to provide the protection it should. Once a season, take a look around each of your windows and doors to make sure that the weather stripping is in place and in good condition.
At the same time, make sure there aren’t any cracks or other holes that might allow your warm air to slip out. Plugging air leaks with caulk and sealant can save you as much as 30% on your yearly energy costs – not to mention making your home much more comfortable during the winter!
Take an inventory of your space.
If you have guest rooms or other areas of your home that aren’t often used, closing the vents in these areas can help direct the warm air to the spaces that need it most.
Consider a programmable thermostat.
A traditional thermostat doesn’t offer much control of your space beyond setting the temperature at any given moment. Modern, programmable ones allow you to set the temperature in your home for different times of the day to make sure that you aren’t wasting energy when no one is at home. Your thermostat should be set for your family’s schedule weekday and weekend schedule, as well as to accommodate times when you may be away for an extended period of time.
If you feel like you might be paying to heat the great outdoors but you can’t quite pinpoint where things are going wrong, our professionals can assess your heating situation and provide valuable insight as to where the hot air is escaping from your home. Contact us to set up a professional inspection of your heating system today – before you throw more money out the window!