As the cold creeps its way back into our lives this season, we thought you might like a few winter tips for the home to help keep you and your love ones safe and warm.
1. Protect Those Pipes
Damage from frozen and burst pipes costs homeowners in the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And that includes homeowners who live in more southern climates. If you experience freezing temperatures at any point during the winter, you need to protect your pipes.
When water freezes, it expands by about 9%, and that can be disastrous when it’s trapped inside a metal or plastic pipe that has, at the same time, done the opposite and contracted with the cold. Uninsulated pipes near exterior walls, crawl spaces, attics, garages and even under sinks are usually most at risk.
Here are some ways to prevent plumbing damage when it’s freezing outside:
● Wrap pipes with foam insulation or heat tape, available at any hardware or home improvement store.
● Let hot and cold water trickle from a faucet during hard freezes—helps prevent ice from forming in your pipes.
● Keep your home at least 55 degrees, even when you’re not there. Pipes in lower-risk parts of the home can still freeze if temperatures drop too low—energy-saving smart thermostats are a great way to stay on top of this when you’re gone.
● Shut off and drain pipes and spigots feeding water hoses and irrigation systems outside in the winter.
● Shut off water at main valve and drain system when leaving for a few days—some insurance companies require this as part of their coverage. If you don’t know where your main valve is, call your utility company.
Also, consider signing up for a plumbing protection plan. They can go further than what the average homeowner’s policy will cover and help you stay prepared for the unexpected.
2.Weatherproof Those Windows
If you’ve got older windows, it’s likely they’re not too efficient. About 30% of the energy used to heat and cool the average U.S. home is lost through windows, experts say. New double-paned windows are a great option to save energy. But they’re not cheap, so let’s looks at a few other options that can help.
Temporary Storm Window Inserts
By creating an extra insulating layer similar to a double-paned window, storm window inserts help block the cold outside while trapping the warm air that’s inside.
There are a variety of different brands, designs and price options to choose from on the market these days—you can even try making your own. And they’re sure to help keep your home cozier while saving you energy, too.
Insulated curtains are another affordable option to replacing those old, inefficient windows. Usually made of several layers of different material, including foam, a moisture barrier and a heat reflective lining, these handy—and decorative—items are great at keeping warm air in when it’s cold outside. They’re also a good way to reduce noise.
Air leaks around windows are a major culprit in energy loss, too. You can check by lighting a stick of incense near a suspected leak and then watching what the smoke trail does (inside your home or outside near windows), or you can purchase a thermal sensor from any hardware store for $25 to $40. Once you’ve detected a leak, you’ll want to seal it with caulk. Or replace worn weather stripping, if that’s the reason for the leak. Larger cracks, where the window frame meets the wall, can also be filled with expanding foam once the window trip has been removed. Reinstall the trim once the foam has cured and has stopped expanding—you may have to trim it with a sharp knife.
3.Trim Those Trees
Although not so much an issue of energy efficiency, ailing trees and limbs near your home can certainly create a hazardous situation when the weather gets bad. High winds and ice can send limbs and tress crashing to the ground, through windows, walls or onto your roof. Besides the damage to your home, there’s also the chance that people get hurt from this.
Before the weather gets too bad or before the first snow, look around your yard and home for signs of dead trees and branches. Remove what you can yourself, or have a reputable tree service come out and take care of the problem.
Here are a few things to look for when deciding if trees or branches are dead:
● Trees or branches were leafless throughout the spring and summer
● Dead leaves cling to branches while other branches are already bare
● Exposed wood where bark has fallen off/rotten, crumbly areas
● Large fungus inhabiting sections of trunk or branches
At Infinite Energy, we’re always looking for ways to make your life a little easier. We hope these three winter tips for the home help.