Home & Garden

Save money and energy by winterizing your home

Clocks are turned one hour back on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2 a.m. Though this means we gain a precious hour of sleep, it also means that it gets darker much earlier and cooler weather is on the way, so now is the time to start winterizing your home for
energy efficiency.

In the winter, a large portion of household energy budgets is consumed by heating costs. That’s why it’s important to check your home to make sure your heating dollars are not being wasted. Here in San Francisco, we love our old Victorian homes with all of their charm and character, which unfortunately often translates to cold and drafty.

Many of these tasks are do-it-yourself, so you should have no problem undertaking them; but if you aren’t sure about anything, contact a qualified tradesperson to assist you.

Window insulation films: Window insulation kits allow you to easily install a clear film to seal out air drafts. Just use a hair dryer to heat the film to shrink to fit your window. Available in various sizes.

Weather stripping and caulking: These are probably the least expensive, simplest, most effective ways to cut down on energy waste in the winter. Improperly sealed homes can waste 10 to 15 percent of your heat.

Check around doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Add weatherstripping and caulk any holes you see that allow heat to escape. Make sure doors seal properly.

  • If your windows leak badly, consider replacing them with newer, more efficient ones, or consider restoration (see article below). Both methods can provide improved appearance and comfort.
  • Electric wall plugs and switches can allow cold air in. Install precut foam gaskets that fit behind the switch plates and effectively prevent leaks.

Fireplace dampers:  The fireplace damper only needs to be open if a fire is burning, so close it when you’re not using the fireplace. Leaving it open creates a draft and causes the chimney to function as a large open window that draws warm air out of the room.

Heating system: Get a routine maintenance and inspection of your heating system each autumn to make sure it is in good working order. Replace your heater’s air filter monthly.

Programmable thermostats: A programmable thermostat, capable of dividing the days into multiple time zones, allows you to adjust the temperature level accordingly. For example, at night you can turn it way down, program it to have the house warmed when you wake up, and set the temperature during the day to an appropriate level depending on the weather and the season. These thermostats are easy to install and save energy and money on your electric bill.

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Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator of Cole Hardware and can be reached at [email protected].