#1 Have a home energy assessment done by an energy smart contractor, such as the ones participating in Enhabit. Contractors certified in building science can pinpoint areas of a home that need upgrading for added comfort, safety and energy efficiency.
Intuitively, we may think of our heating systems, perhaps having a checkup or an annual maintenance. While that is important, it is equally important to look more closely at the things that effect how well our heating systems perform.
#2 Air & Duct Sealing is critical to reducing energy waste and solving many comfort related issues. As cooler weather begins, we may start to notice drafts or cold areas within our home. Air sealing can greatly enhance comfort, eliminating discomfort by increasing the efficiency of our “cocoon” or our shell that protects us from the outdoor elements. Similarly, sealing ducts in a forced air system can bring more comfort to areas of the home that need it, while cutting energy waste and heating costs by 20 to 30 percent. Air and duct sealing bring the added benefit of improved indoor air quality.
#3 Once air sealing and duct sealing (if needed) have been done, the next tip for preparing for winter is the addition of high levels of insulation. All areas, including walls, attics and crawl spaces should meet or exceed energy codes for insulation. Ductwork too should be well insulated. Air sealing combined with insulation, reduces inefficiencies and offers the most comfort for the expense. These help keep the home cooler in the summer, too.
#4 If a home has older inefficient windows, they too can be upgraded to complete a super-efficient shell (our cocoon). High efficiency windows are a unique part of the energy efficiency mix, as they add to increased wall insulation values and can reduce air leakage but they also add real value to a home.
#5 Heating system checkups ensure your heater is working as efficiently as possible, and are a good way to catch problems early. Checkups are recommended every year for gas furnaces and biannually for heat pumps. Filters should be changed every two months during the heating season.
#6 Lighting influences how homes “feel” during winter months. With shorter days, we all use more lights. Changing as many lights as possible to LEDs can enhance our indoor environment while cutting electrical use.
#7 Raise the shades! Now that the sun is less intense and we don’t have the heat gain of summer, fall and winter days are the time to open up shades and blinds early in the day to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. Close shades at night to help keep out the cold.