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North Hills Monthly

Cut Energy Costs by Winterizing Your Home

Sep 30, 2014 03:18PM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch
It’s hard to believe that the kids are back in school! New schedules will be quickly followed by kids in costumes, stuffing the turkey, and Secret Santa gifts. Along with all of these seasonal activities comes the dreaded cold and four-letter ‘S’ word—snow.

If the country gets another winter like this past season, you’ll need to properly prepare your home in order to protect it from the harsh elements and, hopefully, save yourself a little cash along the way. “Low temperatures, strong winds, ice, sleet and freezing rain are conditions to be concerned about,” shared Richard Klosky of Klosky Enterprises. Another local expert, Tom Dimond of Climate Systems, agreed. “While preventative maintenance does cost money, it will help save you in the long run. And really, a lot of this you can do yourself.”

The two experts offer the following suggestions on what homeowners need to do to help put an end to chilly rooms and high heating costs before the cold sets in.

1.    Check the gutters. Clear your gutters of all leaves and check that the opening between the gutter and the downspout is unobstructed. Use a gutter sealant to seal any connections where leaks may be occurring and consider installing gutter protectors. “It’s a good idea to have someone professional inspect the roof for leaks and then check or clean out the gutters,” shared Klosky. “Icicles caused by blockages can cause leaky basements and damaged foundations.”

2.    Service your heating system and hot water tank. Have a complete system check of your furnace by a trained furnace technician annually. Dimond stresses the importance of checking the furnace to avoid carbon monoxide leaks and to increase overall efficiency. “You do have to spend some money for efficiency, whether it’s through maintenance once a year, or replacement,” he said.

Maintenance entails cleaning and checking the burners, checking the gas-to-air mixture, taking temperatures of the duct system, checking oxygen levels and replacing the filter. “It’s important to change the filter a minimum of twice a year,” said Dimond. “The average life of a furnace that has been maintained properly will be 15 to 20 years.”

3.    Seal concrete. “Salt and winter weather do a lot of damage, so it’s important to first pressure wash the area and then use a deep-penetrating, water-based sealant on cracks in order to prevent water from getting further into the concrete,” said Klosky. “Once concrete gets damaged, there’s not much you can do to fix it.”

4.    Seal those cracks. Breaking out a good, acrylic latex caulk can make a big difference in your heating bills. Caulk around windows, doors, pipes, exterior electrical outlets and any other exterior areas where cold air might enter.

5.    Windows and doors: Look to see if you can spot any daylight under the door, around the window sills and in the attic. By adding weather stripping and insulation, heat will be prevented from escaping.

6.    Shut off exterior hose bits. You don’t want your pipes to freeze, and this is something you can do yourself by shutting off lines inside the house and opening valves outside the house.

7.    Drain sprinkler systems. Every year, you should blow out your sprinkler and irrigation systems by either renting a compressor to do it yourself, or contacting a landscape or irrigation system installer to do it for you. This is also a good time to shut off outdoor faucets and install freeze-proof faucet covers.

8.    Check your fireplace. “Have your chimney swept out to prevent creosote buildup,” said Klosky.

9.    Trim trees. “Any tree overhanging your house should be cut back or removed, as branches and debris could do serious damage to the roof and shingles,” said Klosky.

10.    Close up your pool. A pool expert can help do this properly, especially if you are a new pool owner.

Other thoughts to keep in mind include changing out light timers to an earlier hour in order to reflect the winter darkness; cleaning your refrigerator’s condensing coils of dust to improve the efficiency of the appliance; using thick drapes on windows, especially in older homes, to help contain the heat inside the house; cleaning all vents, including on the washer and dryer; checking smoke detectors and installing a carbon monoxide detector if you do not have one; reversing your ceiling fans so that the heat is pushed down from the ceiling; and performing a clean-up of the exterior of your property by storing or covering outdoor furniture, toys and grills.

By implementing these comfort-enhancing and energy-saving improvements, you will be able to set that sweater aside and cozy up to your loved ones in peace.

For more information, you can contact either of these experts at Klosky Enterprises (412-492-8123, or Climate Systems (724-935-3900,