Homeowners typically know they need to protect the outside of their homes from winter weather extremes. But what about maintenance to help you stay comfortable and safe inside when the temperatures drop? Here are some considerations on where to start.
Energy.gov suggests using a programmable thermostat to maintain certain temperatures throughout the day. You may want to set yours to a cooler temperature during the hours you’re out of the house or asleep, and a warmer temperature during the hours you’re typically home and awake, the website suggests.
Doing this can also help you save money by not heating your home unnecessarily, Energy.gov says. Programmable thermostats are generally better for homes with furnaces, not heat pumps, according to the website.
One important note: The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests keeping your home heated to at least 65 degrees to help prevent your pipes from freezing.
Heating Equipment Inspections
Furnaces and chimneys should be professionally inspected at least once a year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). During routine spring and fall maintenance appointments, a professional should inspect your thermostat and furnace filters, says EnergyStar.gov. You should also check your furnace filters yourself each month and replace them every three months, suggests EnergyStar.gov. That’s because dirty filters may interfere with air flow and result in higher heating costs and more wear and tear on your furnace.
Safe Space Heater Use
About 43 percent of house fires were caused by space heaters between 2011 and 2015, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The USFA offers the following fire prevention tips:
- Turn off your heaters before you leave the room or go to bed.
- Keep clothing, curtains or anything else that might burn at least 3 feet away.
- Use a heater with an automatic shutoff, which will turn off the device if it tips over.
- Plug your heater into an outlet rather than a power strip or extension cord.
More Ways to Stay Warm
Energy.gov suggests running ceiling fans in the clockwise position during the winter, to circulate warmer air down into the room. The site also recommends opening curtains during the day to let heat from the sun inside and drawing curtains after sundown to trap the heat inside. Finally, keeping chimney flues closed when they are not in use may help prevent cold air from coming in through your fireplace.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It’s important that you make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Check to make sure that the units are not expired, that they’re equipped with fresh batteries and that they’re placed properly throughout your home — so you can be warned of any signs of danger.
Taking a few proactive steps and brushing up on safety measures can go a long way toward preparing your home for winter. Then you can hunker down and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you and your home are more prepared to brace to coldest months of the year.