Winterizing Your Home
Is your home ready for winter? David Cohen from Energy Upgrade California shows us how to keep the heat up and costs down.
Winter is here at last! When temperatures dip in Los Angeles many residents get a frigid wake-up call by Mother Nature. Many times, homes never seem to get warm enough and heaters are cranked to get the chill out of the air. As we all know, using your heater excessively drives up utility bills, which most homeowners would prefer to avoid. Then there is the issue of rainy and windy weather conditions to contend with as a homeowner, which can be burdensome if a home is not properly maintained and prepared for winter weather conditions.
To assist homeowners this winter season, Energy Upgrade California in Los Angeles County is offering easy tips for homeowners to winterize their home.
Home Winterization Tips
1.) Prune trees near the house: Heavy rains and wind can knock leaves onto your roof and clog your rain gutters. By making sure the trees around your home are pruned sufficiently, you are reducing the potential for damage to your home’s exterior.
2.) Protect outside items: The surfaces of lawn furniture and barbecues can be damaged by extreme rain. To prolong the life of these items, bring them inside or make sure they are covered.
3.) Clean rain gutters: Clear out debris blockages in your gutters and drain systems. To see if something is lodged in the gutter, pour water down the top while someone determines if they can hear water come out on the bottom. Consider adding additional piping to the bottom of your gutters, pushing drainage out farther from the house’s foundation.
4.) Reinforce the door: Consider replacing that rickety old front door with a solid wood or hollow steel door equipped with secure hinges and a deadbolt: it will pay for itself when you sell and minimize the heat loss and keep rain from running in. A new front door is one of the best home improvements you can make to increase your home’s value.
5.) Repair cracks and leaks: Before a rainstorm catches you off guard, repair cracks in ceilings or the foundation, as they make the home more susceptible to severe damage.
6.) Inspect the roof and foundation: This is a preparatory tip that should be done at least once a year. Check the roof and repair loose shingles, and consider updating your roof with gable end braces to thwart against high winds. To buffer an older home against earthquakes, consider shelling out a few hundred dollars for half-inch anchor bolts and earthquake brackets to secure the house to its foundation.
Cold Conditions and Upgrades that Result in Utility Bill Savings:
1.) Air sealing: If your home is drafty and the heat never really seems to stay in your living spaces, chances are your home is not properly sealed. Even if you do not notice drafts in your home, be aware that the average home has enough air leaks or holes around the home that are the equivalent of having one window open in your home year-round.
Homeair sealing, including closing off all penetrations between your living space and the outside, sealing up the ductwork between your heater or air conditioner and the vents, and insulating your attic space first and then your walls, is the least expensive way to see the greatest impact on your utility bill. If your home is properly sealed and ventilated, all of the air you are paying to heat (or cool) will remain in the living areas where you need it, rather than leaking out through things like electrical outlets, recessed lights, window sills, speakers, and more going out through your roof and outside of the house. Air sealing is one of the measures included in the Energy Upgrade program, and you can receive rebates for this upgrade when it is combined with other measures of the program.
2.) Wall, ceiling and attic insulation: Insulation offers a buffer between your home’s exterior walls and roof and the outdoor weather conditions. If your home’s walls, ceilings and attic are not properly insulated, the weather outside will make your home colder inside because the cold interior walls will radiate cool temperatures into your home. If you have an uninsulated attic, you are literally paying to heat your roof because as hot air rises, it will heat the roof surface from the inside out. So, you will end up paying more money to heat your home to make up for the cooling effect that occurs when your home is not properly insulated. Insulation is one of the measures included in the Energy Upgrade program, and you can receive rebates for this upgrade when it is combined with other measures of the program.
3.) Heating system: If your heating (and/or air conditioning) system is ten or more years old, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer, more energy efficient system. Current high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems on the market today use considerably less energy to accomplish the same or better hot/cold air outputs. Also, oftentimespeople have larger systems than they actually need for the size of their home.
In many Energy Upgrade California projects, by sealing the air leaks in the building shell and insulating the attic, many houses didn’t need such a large air conditioning/heating unit, and they were actually able to replace the unit with a 1 or 2 ton smaller unit, saving them thousands of dollars on the new equipment. Upgrading to a high efficiency heating system is one of the measures included in the Energy Upgrade program, and you can receive rebates for this upgrade when it is combined with other measures of the program.
4.) Hot water pipe insulation: The area from which the hot water pipe extends out from the water heater appliance prior to entering an interior wall is exposed to the outdoor or indoor air temperature. To mitigate heat loss caused by exposure, you can wrap the pipe to insulate it in addition to adding an insulating blanket around the water heater. Hot water pipe insulation is one of the measures included in the Energy Upgrade program, and you can receive rebates for this upgrade when it is combined with other measures of the program.
5.) Thermostat: Be sure to have programmable thermostat installed in your home in order and you can set it at lower temperatures or to automatically turn off during certain times of the day. Generally, it is best to leave your thermostat at 68 degrees or below during the day in order to conserve energy and keep your utility bills lower.
General Tips to Protect Your Home:
1.) Make sure your home is properly insured: Review your homeowner’s insurance plan to see what kind of damages would be covered. It is important to be sure sure your plan includes the proper limit, or the assessed amount it would currently cost to repair your home from flooding or water damage.
2.) Account for your belongings: Consider videotaping or snapping pictures of your home and its contents. These can be used for reference if anything is lost or damaged.
Remember, Energy Upgrade offers up to $4,000 in rebates and incentives to make energy efficiency improvements to your home, many of which were just covered in this tips article. To learn about additional measures that qualify for the program, attend an upcoming homeowner workshop presentation, visit the website and contact a Participating Contractor today.
Attend one of our upcoming homeowner workshop presentations:
Culver City Homeowner Workshop
When: Friday, December 7, 2012, 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Location: 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230, Veteran’s Memorial Building
Monrovia Homeowner Workshop and Movie Night
When: Wednesday, December 19
Homeowner Workshop: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Movie: A Christmas Story: 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: 321 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia, CA 91016, Monrovia Library, Community Room