It may technically still be fall (until December 20th), but we can already feel winter’s chill settling in. But it shouldn’t be settling inside your house. Here are a few tips on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency to reduce your heating bills this winter.
Seal The Gaps
It has been calculated that the cracks in the walls and around the windows and doors of the average Canadian home are equivalent to a basketball-sized hole. (Check out this YouTube clip for David Suzuki’s take on it). Thankfully, sealing them up is an easily DIY-able weekend chore.
First off, you need to find the leaks. The most common areas for drafts are around the frames of windows and exterior doors, and where the floors and baseboards meet. On a windy day, light up an incense stick and pass it around the edges of all these areas. Make note of any areas where the smoke begins to flutter and come back later to seal.
For drafty doors, you can buy a weatherstripping kit for about $25 at any building supply store and easily install it yourself. The only tools you’ll need are a tape measure, a hacksaw to cut the pieces to length, and a screwdriver to attach the pieces.
Seal the cracks around windows and baseboards with interior caulking. For really large gaps (1/2” or more), fill the cavity with spray foam insulation. Let it cure, cut away any excess, then cover with caulking.
Smart Ways To Save On Heating Bills
If you haven’t already done so, you should replace your outdated mercury thermostat with a programmable one. These new units – sometimes referred to as “setback” thermostats – allow you to program the furnace to turn down when you’re asleep or away at work, then turn back on just before it’s time to wake up or your family returns home. Many utility companies offer rebates or coupons to encourage homeowners to upgrade to a programmable thermostat.
Top Furnace Fixes
A dirty, clogged filter makes your furnace run harder to maintain the heat, consuming more fuel and increasing wear-and-tear on the components. Check your owners’ manual for recommendations on how frequently to change them – usually at least once or twice over the winter. Furnace manufacturers also recommend an annual cleaning and inspection.
You should also walk through your home and inspect all the vents where the hot air comes out. Lift the covers off and vacuum out any debris, then make sure nothing it blocking the airflow from circulating through the room.
Similarly, if your home is heated with hot-water radiators, make sure that large pieces of furniture or other objects aren’t blocking and absorbing the majority of the heat.
Home, Insured Home
Now that your place is all nice and cozy, you should make sure you have a security blanket to make sure it stays safe. Unlike auto insurance, there’s no law requiring homeowners to have house insurance. (Though if you have a mortgage your financial institution will require it as a condition of providing the loan.) That said, you’d be foolish to take the risk of losing everything by not having home insurance.
But, odds are that you signed up for insurance when you bought your first house and have just kept renewing ever since. Why not take a few minutes on the phone to shop around and find out if you can get a better rate? You can start here or contact the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals to find a certified mortgage broker in your area.