Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 28, 2012

10 tips on preparing your home for winter

Staff writer
The Independent

ASHLAND — The winter chill has finally arrived, so take a little time to prepare the home for cooler days before the furnace breaks down.

 “More than half the energy used at home can be used by the heating and air conditioning system,” said Gary Jones, owner of the Aire Serv of Tri-State Area. “Regular maintenance is the best way to cut costs and keep your heating system working at maximum efficiency.”

 To prevent unwanted costs and keep heating systems in excellent condition this winter, homeowners can follow these tips by Aire Serv:

‰Don’t Get Drafty. Look for drafty windows and door frames. Check the caulking and add new weather stripping as necessary — air leaks can cause the loss of heat, energy and money.

‰Get a Check-Up. Identify problems early with a seasonal check-up by your heating and cooling contractor. Dirt and neglect are the main cause for heating system failures.

‰Open Up. Open south-facing window blinds and curtains to let the sun in and reduce the load on your heating system. Then close them at night to reduce the winter chill.

‰Monitor Monthly. Check the furnace filters monthly and replace as necessary.

‰Insulate the Air Ducts. A heating and air conditioning system’s efficiency can improve up to 20 percent when ducts are properly sealed and insulated. They can help prevent the heated air from escaping into unheated spaces such as the attic or crawlspace.

‰Avoid Faulty Readings. Keep heat-generated appliances like TVs and computer equipment away from thermostats.

‰Reverse Ceiling Fans. By switching the ceiling fan blades to the clockwise direction, warmer air that’s accumulated near the ceiling will be pushed back down.

Other tips…

Install a programmable thermostat. This “smart thermostat” can turn on the heater to the desired set point one hour before you arrive, avoiding the need to run the system all day. There are smart phone apps that can connect to many programmable thermostats.

Optimize your heating system’s air flow. A contractor can test air flow and make adjustments for optimal performance, which increases comfort levels while reducing utility bills.

If your heater or furnace is outdated, you’ll save money by upgrading. An Energy Star®-rated gas furnace can be 15 percent more efficient than older models and reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. A qualified boiler can be up to 5 percent more efficient than standard models.