Looks like this cold weather is here to stay! This post may come a touch late but with this East Tennessee weather there’s never any telling what’s going to happen! Let’s talk about the attention your home + systems need as the temperatures start to drop!
First things first – the heat source! It’s important to change your furnace’s filter, monthly if possible, during the cold months to keep your energy bill down, your unit from being overworked, and your house warm! That filter is a cheap and quick preventative that not only keeps your airflow clean and steady but could save you up to 15% in energy costs, not to mention the headache of getting stuck with an unexpected repair bill!
If you have a fireplace, we recommend an annual inspection to help ensure that there are no cracks or obstructions in the chimney. An inspection will also help identify any damage that has been cause by high winds or storms that have passed through, especially to the rain cap. If damage has occurred, it leaves room for rain and animals room to get in, the leading reasons a chimney fails. The inspector will also identify a need for a chimney sweep if there is build up or clearance concerns. Keep firewood stored at least 30 feet from the house to avoid a fire hazard.
If you have ceiling fans, did you think they were only for cooling? They can help distribute heat too! Most units have a toggle-switch or button on the remote that reverses the direction the fan blades turn. A vertical switch should be switched up and a horizontal one should be on the right during the winter. To make sure your blades are moving in the right direction, when standing directly under your fan looking up, the blades should be spinning clockwise on a low speed setting. In doing this, rather than creating a downward airflow as it does in the summer, this will pull the cold air up forcing the warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down redistributing the already heated air!
Check your smoke + carbon monoxide detectors to see that they’re operating properly and put fresh batteries in them each year. Do the same with a flashlight and keep it in an easy to find spot in case of a power outage.
Now that you’ve done what you can to help keep the house heated and save energy, we don’t want it to all go to waste! According to the US Department of Energy, drafts can cause between 5% – 30% of heat to be lost! THAT’S INSANE! Drafts are most commonly found where two different building materials meet; check your doors, windows, chimneys, and where wires and pipes enter and exit your home for any. If you find a draft (check here for a tutorial of how to find them) seal it using the appropriate material, whether caulk, weather stripping, a door sweep, etc. You can also use a rolled up towel or a DIY draft stopper to help keep cold air from entering underneath exterior doors.
Protect pipes that are in areas like a basement, attic, or garage since those areas are typically unheated by adding pipe insulation. Find your water’s shut off valve + know where it is so that you are able to turn the water off quickly in case of an emergency. When the temperature drops, leave cabinet doors with hidden plumbing such as in the kitchen and bathrooms open to give warm air a way to circulate in those spaces to help prevent freezing. Make sure that in doing so, you don’t leave cleaning supplies or other toxic products in the reach of small children and pets.
Disconnect outdoor hoses and drain any water in them to prevent water from freezing inside and busting the hose. Use insulated spigot covers to keep ice from forming in/around outdoor water spigots.
Empty gas powered tools such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, pressure washers, etc to avoid damage from freezing temperatures. Take inventory of your tools to make sure you have a good shovel for removing any snow that could come. If you already have one, check to make sure there are no cracks from the previous winter you may have forgotten about. Grab a bag of salt to have on hand in case you need it for your walkways! Speaking of walkways, those can easily hide ice which can be very dangerous, especially with the limited daylight there is during the winter. Check your outdoor lights to make sure all of your bulbs are working and motion sensors are operating properly so you have a higher change of spotting any sneaky ice before slipping.
Inspect your gutters and roof (safely!) to make sure there are no leaves or debris that could ease the formation of ice dams.
If you are thinking about selling, wintertime is a great time to think ahead and have your realtor come out to help you identify the things needs to be addressed prior to listing. Taking advantage of being home more this season by checking these things off the to-do list will ease stress and help your home make a bigger splash when it hits the market! Need a realtor? We would love to put you in touch with one of our real estate specialists – just call our office! 865-560-9401