It was so nice to have a white Christmas for the first time in many years. However, along with snow comes cold temps. If your home isn’t properly winterized, that can mean big heating bills. Here are six ways to save money while staying warm this winter:
- Close the flue when not using your fireplace. Warm air from your home can escape from your fireplace when it isn’t in use. When not using it, close the flue and consider reducing how often you use the fireplace. If you can’t resist a roaring fire, install glass fireplace doors to keep the warm air inside.
- Reduce drafts by installing door sweeps on exterior doors to keep the cold air from seeping in. Also, keep interior doors to unused rooms closed, like the guest room that rarely gets used.
- Seal windows with plastic film. Companies like 3M make window film kits to help you seal your windows from the inside. They are inexpensive and easy to install and could help cut your heating cuts this winter.
- Window treatments like wood blinds and insulated curtains can make a big difference in keeping the cold air out. Just remember to open them during the day to let the sunlight warm your home naturally.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat on a lower temperature when you’re away from home or asleep at night, saving those toasty warm temps for when your family is home and active.
- Keep heating ducts, vents and registers free from obstacles. To make sure forced air can circulate properly throughout each room, make sure heating ducts, vents and registers are not blocked by furniture. Not only will this keep your home warmer, but it can prevent a possible fire.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year to spend time with friends and family, decorate our homes for the season, and gather around a toasty warm fireplace. Unfortunately, some of these activities bring inherent dangers with them. Here are 11 holiday and winter fire safety tips from Pillar to Post to help keep your family and safe this holiday season.
- Before hanging holiday lights indoors or out, check for frayed or broken wires and plugs. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when connecting strings of lights together to prevent overload.
- Only turn on your holiday lights when someone is home, and be sure to turn them off before you go to bed each night.
- Candles are a beautiful way to decorate for the holidays, but they need to be used with caution. If you are using real candles, be sure they are in stable holders and located away from drapes, pets, children and other potential hazards. Never leave candles burning unattended.
- If you are using a live Christmas tree this year, be sure it is properly hydrated and placed in a proper stand. Be sure to check the water level daily, and use nonflammable decorations. Also, when the tree becomes dried out after the holiday, dispose of it as soon as possible. Some cities and scout troops collect the trees to use for mulch, so recycle it if you can.
- Check lamps, appliances and electronics regularly for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. If any of those items are damaged, do not use that electrical item, and never run electrical wires or extension cords under carpets or rugs.
- Have your fireplace serviced every year, including cleaning and masonry repair.
- If you plan to use a space heater to heat your home, keep it away from beds, bedding, curtains, papers or anything else flammable. Keep it away from children and pets, and never leave it unattended. Turn space heaters off before going to bed at night.
- Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change their batteries to keep them fresh. Home safety experts recommend changing the batteries when the time changes each spring and fall.
- Keep matches, lighters and candles away from children. Also, be sure to store flammable materials like gasoline, kerosene and propane outside and away from your home.
- When doing your holiday cooking and baking, be particularly careful in the kitchen. Grease fires and other kitchen fires and burns can be prevented with good cleaning and by taking great care while cooking. Have a fire extinguisher created to handle grease and fuel fires handy (pantry, under the sink, etc.).
- Make sure your family has and knows its emergency escape plan. Visit Ready.gov for information on creating a plan, and make sure all family members – including small children – know to dial 9-1-1 in case of a fire.
Thanks again to Pillar and Post for these great tips. We at Team Marti hope you and your family have a wonderful, safe holiday season!
Burst pipes, astronomical heating bills and drafty doors and windows can make for a long and miserable winter, even in the Pacific Northwest. Though our winters are milder than much of the country, there are still some preventative measures we can take to ensure that we remain comfortable throughout the season and save money in the process.
- Use a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature and lower heating bills. Lower your home’s temperature any time you’ll be asleep or away from home more than a few hours.
- Reduce air leaks and drafts by adding insulation to walls, crawl spaces and even floors. Caulk windows, replace weather stripping, install storm windows and/or cover windows in plastic to reduce energy loss and keep your home warmer.
- Install glass doors on your fireplace to keep warm air inside.
- If you have ceiling fans, reverse them to go clockwise. The fan will push warm air downward instead of drawing it up toward the ceiling.
- Change your furnace filters monthly, according to manufacturer specifications.
- Disconnect your outdoor hose, shut off the water valve, drain the spigot and cover it with a Styrofoam cover.
For more helpful tips, read the full article by Katy Read and Christy Desmith at HouseLogic.com.
Much to our surprise, the first winter storm of the year is upon us. Despite the weather predictions, I was skeptical! How about you?
Whether you were expecting snow and ice this early, it is necessary to make sure you’ve gotten your winter home maintenance tasks covered. Here are just a few “to dos” you’ll want to get to ASAP:
- Clean out your gutters to ensure proper drainage.
- Empty hoses, A/C lines, etc. to prevent freezing.
- Cap or weatherproof outdoor water spouts.
- Caulk and seal windows and doors to prevent leaking.
- Have your furnace and fireplace serviced.
- Change your furnace and HVAC air filters.
- Clean your kitchen’s exhaust hood and filter.