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By crossroadsp2443513, Oct 4 2017 08:26PM

There’s no better time than early fall to start preparing your home for the coldest months of the year. Taking these steps will require some of your time but it’ll be worth all that you’ll be saving on your utility bills. So, let’s get right to it.

1. Winterize your A/C

Winter what? It’s just a fancy way of getting something ready for winter. All you must do is drain all hoses and air conditioner pipes completely – making sure you don't have excess water in your equipment. If your A/C unit has a water shutoff valve, turn that off.

Also, be sure hoses are drained and stored away neatly. Seal any water leaks you see and remove window A/C units to avoid cold drafts from entering your home during winter.

2. Change out Furnace Filters

It's especially important to replace or clean your furnace filters once a month because filters get dirty easily. As a result, they restrict airflow and hike up a demand of energy. So, make sure to set a reminder every month. You may also consider switching to a permanent filter such as a genuine HEPA filter, which can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, HEPA filters meet their standards for efficiency.

Now if your entire furnace needs to be replaced, it will cost much more up front but will save you more in the long run, especially during the heating season.

3. Lower your Water Heater

Although typically set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, lowering the temperature to 120 degrees or lower would reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent.

4. Block out Drafts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste anywhere between 5 to 30 percent of your energy use. That’s quite a range! You don’t have to be a big DIYer as you can simply place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door or you can use any scraps of fabric and fill with sand for heft.

5. Watch that thermostat

Coffee? Check. Keys? Check. Turn down heat? Check. It's easy to forget to check the thermostat before you rush out for work, but it’s harder to forget how much money this extra effort will ultimately save you.

How much will it actually save you? Well, for every degree you lower the thermostat during the winter season, you can save between 1 and 3 percent of your heating bill. Perhaps you may want to think about a programmable thermostat, which are affordable and save the average family $180 a year.

6. Use a Window Insulation Kit

Believe it or not, you can spend less than $10 for a window insulation kit at your local hardware store. They are so easy to install, barely visible, and are effective at buffering against drafts.

7. Use Caulking and Weather-Stripping

Can you believe that small leaks can kill your home energy’s efficiency by 5 to 30 percent a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy? It’s definitely worth sealing up gaps with caulking and weather stripping.

Carefully examine the areas where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit, and along the foundation.

8. Increase Insulation

Insulation is by far one of the best ways to save energy and money in your home. Adding extra insulation between walls, your attic floor and basement ceiling will make a huge difference in your level of comfort too. Bonus: The federal government will reimburse you for 10 percent of the cost, up to $500 for highly efficient insulation.

9. Seal those ducts

Studies have shown that 10 to 30 percent of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from air ducts. That being said, it could be a good investment to have a professional technician test your duct system and fix any problems.

Properly sealing ducts can save the average home up to $140 annually, according to the American Solar Energy Society. You'll also have better protection against mold and dust.

10. Upgrade your furnace

You don’t have to do this every year or even every 10 years, but if your furnace is old you could save a lot of money and improve your home's value by upgrading to a new unit. If you do decide to purchase a new one, make it an Energy Star-certified furnace to save 15 to 20 percent versus standard new models. You could save over 50 percent compared with many old furnaces.

If you need or would prefer to leave it to the experts, be sure to call Crossroads Property Maintenance at 706-352-5678.

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