If the snow flurries are any indicator, it’s safe to say winter has hit the Windy City. Time to ready your Chicago home for the upcoming months of freezing temperatures and harsh weather. The next few posts include useful winterizing ideas that will help you reduce energy waste, save money on utility bills, and protect your home against the elements this winter.
Check the Ducts
If your home has central heating, make sure to check the ducts for dents, breaks and proper insulation. Oftentimes you can see exposed ductwork in the attic or basement, or take the register grates off the vents an use a mirror and flashlight to view down the duct interior. Any cracks should be sealed with specialty tape and replace or reinforce duct insulation where lacking. Everything you need for these projects are available at home improvement stores. Be sure to get insulation made for ductwork. Dents can restrict the airflow and prevent the maximum amount of heated air from reaching the vents. Fix dents where possible – you may need a professional to repair severely pinched ducts.
This is also a good time to clean out your ductwork. Get rid of excess dust, hair and dirt using the hose feature of your vacuum. If your ducts are not in proper working order, as much as 60 percent of heated air can be lost before making it to the registers. Don’t waste your money on wasted heat! Put in the necessary maintenance time and you’ll have an efficient system that will keep your family warm and budget-conscious this winter.
Mind the Windows
A lot of heat can escape through your windows if they are not well insulated and sealed. Newer windows are not such a problem (especially if you have double-pane features), but older windows need extra attention in winter to offer the most energy efficiency.
First of all, always take out screens and put in storm windows if you have them. Seal gaps with caulk to limit cold drafts and heat leaks. For windows that are warped from age and do not close tightly, you can buy foam strips to fill in the gaping space between the window and sill. Window insulator kits may not be the most attractive fix, but they help reduce heat loss. Usually these include clear plastic sheets you “shrink wrap” to the window with a hairdryer. Again, the supplies you need for these winterizing projects are available at most home improvement stores.
More helpful winterizing tips next time!