November is a great time to get fully prepared for the upcoming winter, to get a jump ahead on those seasonal things to do, like these examples:
Replace the filter on the furnace; the heating system will be in full operation soon, so it’s important-and essential-to make sure the filter’s fresh, keeping the interior air as clean as possible.
Try to make an appointment to have the chimney inspected and cleaned out as soon as possible before using the fireplace or a heating stove. Did you know that trapped particles in the chimney can ignite, and that leftover chimney waste can stink up a home?
And while someone’s up there, don’t forget to clean out the gutters (to stop any ice blockups)! Use glass panels to replace the screens in storm doors. They’ll insulate the home against colder temperatures. Is there good insulation between the attic and ceiling? Check to be sure. And reverse the ceiling fans.
Indoor Heating Myths
According to Max Sherman, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a fireplace isn’t the best way of heating your home; the exception would be if you turned down the heat in the rest of the house, close off and and heat only one room-the one the fireplace is in.
He also thinks the programmable thermostats, so highly in vogue now, are just costing more money than they’re really worth (especially when you can just walk over and adjust the thermostat yourself). Do you have a heat pump? The value of a programmable thermostat can be greatly reduced (heat pumps don’t work with varying temperatures; “because of the way heat pumps operate, set-back can be a difficult thing for them and may not save nearly as much,” Sherman said.
Cranking the heat up (right away to 75, 80 and higher) will not heat the home faster, either (you’ll just be wasting energy-and more money). And keeping the house at a consistent temperature-even when you’re not home-also won’t work (except for homes with heat pumps).
The foolproof way? “If the system is running less, it means it’s using less energy,” stated Sherman. The U.S. Department of Energy agrees: “You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68 degrees while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.”
For more information and ideas about cost-effective home energy improvements, visit www.energystar.gov.
Sources: “Prepare now for the arrival of cooler temperatures” by MetroServices-Vindy Homes-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Nov. 8, 2015 and “Beware, hot air!” by Gregory Karp, Chicago Tribune (TNS)-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Nov. 23, 2014