Get ready for winter with these energy-saving tips
By Matt Smith
We Canadians may be used to the long winters we face, but it’s still easy to get caught off guard when the first snowfall hits. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your home is properly prepared for the cold season ahead.
It’s good to begin with a thorough cleanup of your property, storing away such things as patio furniture and barbecues and raking dead leaves out of the garden. If you’ve got a green thumb, now’s the time to ready your garden for winter—wrapping up delicate shrubs and saplings, clearing out weeds, planting bulbs for the spring, and adding compost. Clean out your rain gutters to prevent possible damage from ice buildup. Put away garden hoses and install covers over outdoor faucets to prevent pipes from freezing.
Examine the foundation of your home, paying close attention to areas where there may be cracks, such as near chimneys or places where pipes or wires enter the building. Install weatherstripping as needed and add caulking or foam insulation around these problem areas. Make sure that doors and windows are properly sealed (don’t forget about the attic); insulating your windows with plastic film will add an extra barrier against the oncoming cold, and heavy curtains, yet another. If you can afford the expense, consider investing in energy-efficient windows to keep your home warm and cut down on energy costs.
After making sure that no hot air is escaping your house and no cold air is getting in, you should see to your heating system. Furnaces should be cleaned and serviced yearly, and it’s important to replace air filters regularly. To be even more thorough, check the duct work and seal up any air leaks there, too. If you have ceiling fans, reverse them so they’re turning clockwise, pushing hot air down from the ceiling to warm the house.
To conserve even more energy, use your thermostat: lower the temperature when you leave the house, and consider upgrading to a programmable model to make this easier. Not only will you be able to schedule when your heating turns on, but depending on the model, you may also be provided with insights into your energy consumption that can help highlight ways to save money in the future.