The start of winter brings lots of changes. Many people welcome the idea of cozy nights by the fire, crisp leaves underfoot and the approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Others dread the longer nights, the threat of bad weather and drop in temperature.
It is important that all homeowners do their best to make sure their residence is fully prepared for the new season. All family members want the assurance that they can spend the entire winter in a secure, warm home without the risk of drafts or the heating system breaking down. In order for that to happen the homeowners need to check their fall cleaning list and follow our tips listed below.
What is “fall cleaning” and why is it so important?
Spring cleaning is an important part of the household calendar – whether those involved love it or hate it. Many overlook the importance of fall cleaning. Fall cleaning means merely a chance to give the home a once-over to make sure it is ready to handle the dreary cold and wet side of winter.
The home will only be warm, cozy and draft free if owners are sure that the insulation, weatherproofing, and heating system are in full working order. A few simple checks and repairs could stop the cold, the complaints and the costs of running the home.
Problems with heating and energy loss may come down to the condition of the HVAC
The HVAC system is essential for all homeowners that want reliable heating and cooling throughout the year. All those that install one love it for handling the temperature control with minimal requirements of the owner. This comes with a slight risk, however. It is too easy to get complacent and assume that everything is fine.
There is a good chance that most HVAC systems could do with a tune-up before winter. This is easily done with the help of a professional contractor. They can carry out a complete check of the parts and systems to make sure that it works as it should.
Why is this so important? The simple answer here comes down to costs, like with most of these factors. A malfunctioning, ineffective system could mean higher energy usage for no good reason. This waste of energy has a massive impact on household bills. A simple repair could make a big difference to the running of the home, and the household budget, for the winter ahead.
There may also come the point where it makes more sense to replace the HVAC system rather than repair it.
All HVAC owners need to weigh up the pros and cons between the cost and inconvenience of ongoing repairs and that of a full replacement. Eventually, all these machines become old and past their best. Repairs become much like a flimsy band-aid with little positive effect. A reliable contractor will help any HVAC owner to make the right choice.
Those that have a system that is more than a decade old should think about replacing it with a more efficient, updated machine. It also makes sense to replace it with an Energy Star model for further cost reductions. These energy efficient options have a significant impact on energy bills – as well as the environment.
(Source: THE HVAC GUYS)
Change the air filter while maintaining an HVAC system
The next cleaning tip for fall cleaning sticks with the heating system. The air filter is something that some owners may overlook. Either they forget it is there, or they see it as unimportant. However, experts recommend that homeowners change this air filter on a monthly basis – not just during this annual fall cleaning regime.
Why is it so important to change the filter on the heating system? This may seem like a simple, almost pointless job to some people. However, it can make a big difference.
A dirty air filter means a lot of congestion that forces the system to work even harder to meet requirements. This means more energy use and more money spent on utility bills. On top of this, there are also the health implications.
Dirty, clogged up air filters contain all sort of pollutants and irritants that shouldn’t end up in the atmosphere of a living room. This means dirt and allergens that can trigger medical conditions, such as asthma.
Invest in a better thermostat
The thermostat is an important part of any heating system. Many homeowners make do with the bare minimum and manually change the temperature to suit their mood. It doesn’t have to be this way, as many programmable models take on the job for scheduled heating. A responsible engineer can install a more convenient model in the home for a more efficient approach to winter heating.
Why are these programmable thermostats such a good idea? Like with so many of these cleaning tips for fall and winter, the answer lies with costs and energy use. Users can set these machines to heat the home at the best times, and then switch off when they aren’t needed. There is no point leaving the heating running while everyone is out. But, this is a possibility with manual models if users are in a hurry. This effective, regular schedule saves energy over time, saves a lot of effort and saves money on energy bills.
Of course, those with money and a desire to save some energy could look into smart thermostats. There are modern options that connect to the internet and other devices for even more convenience for consumers. These app-enabled devices provide greater control and customization for a cheaper winter fuel bill, but happier family members.
Energy loss and poor heating often come from air leaks and other issues
There is nothing worse in winter than a cold draft running through the home. Some people may think that this is unavoidable in older properties. There are options available to anyone that wants to try and improve the issue.
The best place to start is with the bases and edges of windows and doors. A small crack could be enough to let the hot air out and the cold draft in. A simple piece of rubber weatherstripping could provide the perfect barrier and have a surprising impact on energy use and bills.
Stats show that those that seal their homes effectively can reduce their bills by as much as 15%. This small solution is a great tool that highlights how simple steps come together for big rewards. This weatherstripping, plus a new thermostat, and a clean air duct could save a lot of money. Still, there may be other, bigger problems to deal with.
Weatherproofing and draft-proofing lead to the importance of a well-insulated home
Homeowners may find that they spend thousands on a new heating system, thermostat or another measure, but it doesn’t seem to help. This could come down to the energy efficiency of the home and heat loss through poor insulation. It is essential that all homeowners check the insulation for signs of damage, or missing areas, and replace it as soon as possible. Insulation companies can blow in extra insulations into the attic where it may have shifted or settled or poor quality. One of the newer types is the spray foam insulation.
A professional HVAC inspector can help to pinpoint the problems using a special camera and find the worst areas and narrow down solutions. One of the best ways to do this is with thermal imaging. This provides a fascinating look at the efficiency of the home and key areas causing problems. Such areas include crawlspaces, attics, and basements. Winter is one of the best times to perform these checks, so experts advise homeowners not to waste the opportunity.
While checking the insulation, it makes sense to check the roof
The insulation inside the roof and attic space is vital for maintaining heat and regulating energy usage. This may be for nothing if there are further problems with the roof itself. This insulation won’t have quite the same effect in a roof with holes and leaks. This is where it pays to take the cleaning tips outside.
Broken, loose or missing slates can let energy out and water in and it is important to fix or replace them before winter comes. It also makes sense for homeowners to check the gutters while up there. The gutters can become clogged with dead leaves and muck, with a negative impact on drainage. It makes sense for homeowners to do all of this in fall before the worst of the weather comes in. It is no fun trying to fix a roof in a snowstorm.
A little landscaping can go a long way too
It isn’t just the interior of the property that could use a little TLC when it comes to winter preparations. There are lots of ways to stop the heat escaping and the cold coming in. However, there are more dangers than a chilly draft. Fall is the best time of year to take a look at the health of trees on the property.
Homeowners love the wonderful, colorful foliage – until it falls in the gutters – but what about the branches. Vulnerable tree limbs and branches could be dangerous in bad weather. Storms and high winds can send them crashing down on the home. Decaying branches can also succumb to the weight of snow. A quick survey, in calmer, warmer weather, highlights branches at risk that experts can remove.
Checking for carbon monoxide leaks
It is also important to remember that it is not just air and heat leaking out of a home and causing problems. Carbon monoxide could also be a risk factor in many homes. The added issue here is that it is often hard to tell.
Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, so could enter a room undetected. Carbon monoxide detectors are the best tool to determine leaks from heating systems and other appliances. Yet, some homeowners fail to maintain these tools. Other homes may not have them at all.
Why is it so important that homeowners take the time to replace detectors and check for CO gas? The answer here has nothing to do with the economic costs, but rather the cost to life. Carbon monoxide is deadly. Some that come in contact with it may be lucky enough to get sick but survive. Many others die without realizing what they are inhaling. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than 400 people die annually from unintentional poisoning in the US.
Other checks and cleaning tips that homeowners can perform.
This is a great excuse to perform an overall check on the home inside and outside. If spring cleaning is all about freshening up the home and airing it out after winter, this is about making everything safe and secure for a comfortable season. This means plenty of little checks, touch-ups, and jobs to finish off the list. Make sure all safety equipment is up to date and ready for an emergency.
Fall is also a great excuse to freshen up the home furnishings for a cozier feel. There is the choice to either give the quilts and blankets a good wash or buy some new ones. All fall-cleaners need to remember that these blankets don’t just look good. They can save money when used as a substitute for heating.
There is a lot to remember when working on the ideal fall-cleaning schedule. But, it is all worth the effort.
There are lots of tasks for homeowners to consider when cleaning and preparing the home for winter. Some of these tasks and cleaning tips are pretty big and will take some time and effort. It won’t be cheap to replace faulty heating systems, improve the insulation or cut down tree branches.
These efforts will be worthwhile if they save some money during the cold months of central heating, or protect the property in bad weather. The smaller, additional tasks do add to the workload, but these can be just as important. It is all about working through a full list of repairs, checks, and solutions for the best approach.
The more that homeowners do now, the sooner they spot the problems and find solutions. This means a warmer, safer, cheaper and more relaxing winter.