Winterizing Your Home

This article from Kiplinger has some great advice for your home:

For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.

If you act soon, you’ll minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and employs technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program. The contractor should follow the protocol for ACCAs “national standard for residential maintenance” (or the QM, short for “quality maintenance”).

If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises).

This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings — and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.

Or at least scan it closely with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.

If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles ($95 to $127, according to www.costhelper.com) or a roofer for a larger section ($100 to $350 for a 100-square-foot area). Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.

If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, as many are in the Southwest, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture, says Bill Richardson, past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, in Albuquerque. (Don/t sweep aside the pebbles; that will expose the asphalt to damaging sunlight.)
Don’t wait for the first winter storm to restock cold-weather essentials, such as salt or ice melt. If you can’t abide a snowblower’s roar or the back-breaking workout of shoveling, check out the Sno Wovel, a wheeled shovel that does much of the heavy-lifting for you ($150; go to www.wovel.com to locate retailers
Add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation, says David Lupberger, a local home-improvement expert.
If your home had lots of icicles last winter — or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house — take steps to prevent potential damage this year.

Keep the walkways and steps clear. However, when clearing walkways and driveways made of concrete, do not use salt. Salt eats through concrete and causes it to crack. Use eco-friendly products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.

A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams.

Bottom line- Don’t Delay!

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