Homeowners typically know they need to protect the outside of their homes from winter weather extremes. But what about maintenance to make sure you stay comfortable and safe inside when the temperatures drop? Here are some thoughts on where to start.
Energy.gov suggests using a programmable thermostat to maintain certain temperatures throughout the day. You may want to set yours to a cooler temperature during the hours you’re out of the house or asleep, and program the temperature to rise during the hours you’re typically home and awake, the website suggests.
Doing this can also help you avoid wasting money by heating your home unnecessarily, Energy.gov says. Programmable thermostats are best for homes with furnaces, not heating pumps, according to the website.
One important note: The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests keeping your home heated to at least 65 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Furnaces and chimneys should be professionally inspected at least once a year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). You need to be sure that furnaces’ thermostats and pilot lights are functioning and that their filters are clean, says the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which also suggests that any furnace older than 15 years should be replaced.
Bill Garwood, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says that owners of a fossil fuel-fired furnace system should check the supply and return registers, the flue and the burner compartment for rust, dust or other signs of wear regularly. He also reminds homeowners that any HVAC system — including a humidifier — has filters that need to be replaced or cleaned regularly according to the factory specs listed on the filters.
Energy.gov suggests running ceiling fans in the clockwise position during the winter, opening curtains during the day to let heat from the sun inside and drawing curtains after sundown to trap the heat inside, and blocking unwanted cold in your home by keeping chimney flues closed when they are not in use.
About 900 fires involve portable heaters each year, according to the USFA, and cause an estimated $53 million in property loss. The USFA offers the following fire prevention tips:
Finally, it’s important that you make sure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Check to make sure that the units are not expired; that they’re equipped with fresh batteries; and that they’re placed properly throughout your home — so you can be warned of any signs of danger.