You’ve probably already noticed, but temperatures recently dropped sharply, transforming what we’d normally expect on a typical autumn day into a sort of early winter with bone-chilling lows. We’ve already had a little snowfall in Olathe and the greater Kansas City area, and we’ve seen temperatures drop into the 20s. As everyone is bundling up and trying to keep warm around the house, we thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone of some dos and don’ts when it comes to winterizing your home and helping everyone to stay warm and safe through the holiday season and the winter months ahead. As a bonus, these tips will also help you save a bundle on your heating bills and on potential furnace repair costs down the road.
So what should you do—and, just as important, what should you avoid—when it comes to getting your home ready for the cold weather? Let’s break it down.
DO THE FOLLOWING:
Do take home heating safety seriously. Why? Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the home after cooking fires. Keeping safety in mind throughout the house can help keep you, your family, and your home safe and sound. Read through our other tips for more, and brief yourself on some Home Fire Safety Tips from the American Red Cross.
Do keep safety in mind when installing holiday lighting. Nothing makes the holidays feel more merry and bright than all those twinkling holiday lights. You’ll want to keep safety in the front of your mind as you’re installing them, and that includes inspecting lighting before putting it up, never overloading your outlets, and keeping cords out of high-traffic areas. Need more tips? We wrote a whole blog on the subject.
Do inspect your windows and doors. Windows and doors are the number-one place where your home loses heat and lets in cold during the winter. Drafty doors and windows will not only leave your home feeling colder this winter, they’ll cost you a lot in high utility bills. Fortunately, using weatherstripping and adding draft guards to doors and windows can do a lot to help keep the cold out and the heat in.
Do clean the gutters. It’s not much fun, but it is very important, especially during winter weather. Cleaning your gutters (or having them professionally cleaned) helps ensure that they are free from debris that can build up and lead to water or snow collecting on the roof, which can, in turn, lead to ice dams or significant roof damage—not something you want to deal with in the middle of winter.
Do make sure your smoke alarms are working. With everyone cooped up inside and the lights and home heating that come with the long, dark nights, the risk of fires in the home is greater than ever during the winter months. It’s important to know that your smoke alarms are installed where they need to be and are in good working order. You should check your smoke alarms every month throughout the year. You should also install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in central locations throughout your home and near any bedrooms.
Do use flashlights in the event of a power outage. When the power goes out, battery-powered lights such as flashlights or battery-operated candles are a safer alternative to anything with an open flame. If you absolutely must use candles or other open flames during a power outage or otherwise, ensure that they are extinguished and stored someplace safe before you go to bed.
Do get a furnace and HVAC tune-up. Like any complex machinery, your furnace and HVAC system need proper care and regular maintenance. Your best bet is to trust that maintenance to certified Olathe heating and cooling pros. Ultimately, a tune-up is a small investment that can save you big on potential furnace repair costs, not to mention keeping your system running in tip-top shape when you need it most. While you’re at it, don’t forget to stock up on furnace filters so that you can change them every month!
Do check your pipes regularly. Here in Olathe, winter weather can hit hard, and when it does, it’s time to keep an eye on all your pipes and faucets throughout the house. We’ve got some tips on how to prevent your pipes from freezing up this winter, as well as a guide to what you should do in the unfortunate event that they do freeze.
DON’T DO THE FOLLOWING:
Don’t constantly adjust the thermostat. Set your heat to a temperature that you’re comfortable with and keep it there. Turning the heat up and down causes your furnace to work harder and waste energy, which can lead to expensive furnace repairs down the road. Energy.gov recommends you keep your home at 68 degrees when you’re awake and at home. Whatever temperature you select, though, the important thing is not to constantly nudge the thermostat up and down. You might also want to invest in a “smart” programmable thermostat, which can save you a bundle in the long run.
Don’t ignore the windows. We already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. Your home may be losing a lot of heat through windows that aren’t properly insulated. It’s also a good idea to keep window coverings closed. Blinds or curtains can add an extra layer of insulation and help keep heat inside the house.
Don’t leave a space heater unattended. It doesn’t matter what kind of heater it is. Any space heater should be turned off, unplugged, and cooled down before you leave it alone. It’s important to remember that space heaters are only for warming up small spaces. Don’t use them to warm up clothes or bedding or for any purpose other than heating the air in a single room.
Don’t forget to disconnect the garden hoses. Before you put them away for the winter, garden hoses should be disconnected from the outside of the house and drained completely. Leaving them connected can damage your pipes by causing the water inside to freeze and expand.
Don’t cover outside AC units with plastic. Outside AC units are designed to be outside, and they can withstand the rigors of even an Olathe winter. Covering them with plastic won’t help protect them and can, in fact, lead to damage to the unit by trapping moisture that promotes mold, rust, and other problems.
Don’t light the grill inside. Even if the power goes out, you should never, ever use a grill, camp stove, or similar device indoors. That includes inside the house, sure, but also the garage, basement, or anyplace else that’s enclosed. It’s a fire hazard, for starters, and that’s just one of the many dangers that come with using these devices improperly. Just don’t do it.
That’s pretty much it, but we have one more do item before we let you go: Do call Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222 if you have any problems or concerns with your home heating, winterization, or anything else that we can help with. Whether you need a furnace repair, a tune-up, or a new water heater, we’re here for you!