The winter chill is preparing to take a bite from our bank accounts. We've all heard that "winterizing" our homes will help keep utility costs down and is easier on the environment.
Here's a short list of options that are simple to do, and which will yield the most immediate results.
Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. This is one of the simplest ways to keep warm air moving inside your home.
In the colder months, your fan blades should turn in the clockwise direction to force warmer air collecting at the ceiling down toward the floor. You can tell that the blades are turning in the wrong direction for the colder months if you feel a breeze pushing down on you when standing directly under the fan.
Another smart place to check for leaks is in your attic. First, make sure the attic door itself is insulated and seals when shut. As for the actual attic space, if you can see the ceiling joists, you probably need more insulation. And, if your fireplace is more ornamental rather than functional, use a chimney plug to prevent warm air from escaping.
Windows and doors are the biggest places where warm air escapes. Use a match or lit candle to search for leaks. If the flame blows out when held next to windowsills or doorframes, there's a problem. Replacing windows and doors with efficient new ones are your best bet, also costly.
One alternative is to put up insulating storm windows and doors. You can also use window insulating kits or heavy drapery to help keep winter drafts from entering your home through windows.
And, weather-stripping is an inexpensive solution for filling gaps in doorframes. For high-traffic areas, rubber weather-stripping is your best bet because it is more durable than foam variety.
Don't forget to keep up with the maintenance of central heating units. Furnaces should be checked each year to make sure they are operating at maximum efficiency and with clean filters.
A clogged filter makes the unit work harder, costing more to operate and creating a fire hazard.
Another good idea is to check the ductwork in your home to make sure there aren't any leaks. You can easily fix any that you find with metal-backed tape found at any hardware store.
And finally, if your water heater is located in a cold garage or closet invest in a water heater-insulating blanket. This keeps your unit from having to work so hard to heat the water.
These do-it-yourself jobs can be as big or as little as you want and they all add up to energy and money savings. Do your part this winter to keep warm air inside your home and even more money in your pocket.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist, and host of DoYourPart.com where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.