Chances are that you’ve been through enough New Jersey winters to know the impact winter weather has on your home. We’ve found, however, that it’s a good idea to remind ourselves (and others) about some winterizing tips that can help you weather the storms. Some of these tips are fairly obvious (until you do a mental forehead slap and say, “How could I forget to do that?”). So in the spirit of “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” we’re offering some suggestions that may help you and your New Jersey home make it through the winter more smoothly.
Tidings of Comfort and Savings
Most of the winterizing tips we’ll share either focus on your personal comfort within your home, or on things you can do to cut down on your utilities usage and save yourself some money. Let’s start with comfort.
- Check for Chinks in Your House’s Exterior: Nobody enjoys hanging around a drafty house. It doesn’t matter how many sweaters you put on or how many blankets you used to bundle up, it there’s a draft it’s just not comfortable to sit around the house. Check the exterior walls of your home for small cracks that could let in cold air. Pay particular attention to areas where there are pipes, electrical outlets, or dryer vents leading from the inside to the outside. Where needed, use caulking or insulation to seal any leaks.
- Who Froze the Hose: This is one of those obvious things that everybody knows they should take care of. Still, every year some homeowners forget to disconnect the hose and it can cause serious damage. There’s nothing comfortable about finding freezing water (and damaged walls) in the basement of your home.
- Evaluate Your Insulation: We all know the value of having a well-insulated house. But we’re not always sure if we have enough insulation. It’s worth having your home’s insulation checked out. Not only will it make you more comfortable while you’re at home, but it will also save you money on heating. Plus, adequate insulation can help keep water pipes from freezing.
- Don’t Under-heat: Usually you hear advice about not turning your thermostat up too high in the winter. The general idea is that heating can be expensive (which is true). You really don’t want to be heating your home to 72 degrees when you’re at work and the kids are at school. But it’s not efficient to turn the thermostat down below 50. It’s OK if it’s a little cool when you first come home—but it doesn’t need to be freezing. Plus, there are areas in your home that may be even colder than the area where your thermostat is located. You don’t want frozen pipes inside house. So even if you’re going to be gone for the day (or over the weekend) don’t set your thermostat too low. Keeping things at 55 degrees or above should do the trick.
Let’s look at a few simple steps that can help you keep energy use under control (Hey, spending too much on utilities doesn’t make anyone comfortable).
- Have Your Heating System Checked: You’re probably good about changing out your furnace filters once a month in the winter. Newer filters are available that only need to be changed every three month. And there are also filters that take out allergens. So keep that up, but don’t ignore a furnace check-up. It’s cheap insurance to have your furnace checked to make sure it’s efficient and safe. A yearly check-up isn’t that expensive and it can pay for itself in improved efficiency. You’ll save money and be more comfortable.
- Consider a Programmable Thermostat: One way to control heating costs is by using a programmable thermostat that will automatically turn heat down by 10° to 15° when you’re not at home. In just eight hours you can shave 10 percent off your bill. There are new thermostats that are remotely programmable. So if you’re coming home early you can turn the heat up ahead of time.
- Don’t Send Heat Up the Chimney. Having a nice fire on a cold and snowy day is heavenly, but a conventional fireplace can let a lot of heat out through the chimney. Installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system can send warmed air back into the room. You may even want to consider a natural gas fireplace that you can turn on an off when you want.
- Light Up With LEDs: Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) lights for your holiday decorations are many times more efficient that conventional lights. When lighting a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days, conventional bulbs will use about $10 in electricity. Lighting the same tree with LEDs costs about 27¢! On top of that, because they are much cooler than incandescent lights, there’s a reduced risk of fire.
Those are some of the common sense suggestions for keeping your New Jersey home comfortable this winter. Keep in mind that newer homes are much more energy-efficient than older homes. The building materials used insulate better. The windows are also far more energy efficient (Country Classics uses Andersen windows in all of our new homes). Everything from appliances to HVAC systems, and even the insulation does a better job of keeping the warmth inside and the cold outside. Country Classics homes at Hillsborough, or Fox Brook at Montgomery all take advantage of the very latest energy-efficient designs.