Utility costs in Oklahoma City, like many other parts of the country, tend to spike in the months where the weather and temperatures are the most volatile. But because these months are the most costly to keep your home comfortable, they’re also the months where simple energy efficiency measures have the largest impact.
Here are some simple things you can do to winterize your home and stay a little warmer and safer as temperatures outside drop.
1. Run fans in reverse
Rotating your fans in a clockwise motion will help force the naturally-rising warmer air back to ground level.
2. Flush your water heater
Your water heater usually works hardest in winter, especially when it sits in the cold garage. Draining your water heater can help drain any calcium sediment buildup, which will help your water heater operate more efficiently.
For best effects, this should be done annually. If your water heater is several years old and this has never been done, it will likely have minimal results.
3. Insulate and properly seal your windows
You can always replace your older windows with new ones, but that’s probably a four- or five-figure investment. If you’re worried about your windows letting cold air inside, here are a couple of more affordable things you can do:
- For a few dollars, you can get an insulation kit for your windows. This thin plastic sheet is largely invisible and easy enough to install. There are better versions you can have professionally installed for a fraction of the investment of replacing your windows.
- Caulking around the outside of the window can make a big difference, make sure to use a exterior-grade caulk.
- Weatherstripping is another great option. It helps to make a firm seal in the interior area of windows, known as the sash. These are the movable parts of the window which open and close.
4. Tune up your heater
Consider this the shameless plug for our industry. Some people are comfortable doing this themselves, but most people prefer to outsource to an HVAC contractor.
Either way, a well-maintained furnace has lower operating costs and it will keep your home warmer. Most companies perform this service for around a hundred dollars per heater or furnace.
5. Change your air filters
We hate to beat a dead horse, but we find dirty air filters present on roughly 75% of our service calls where the HVAC equipment has stopped working. Consider this a reminder to change yours if you haven’t done so recently.
6. Draft guards for your doors
These may not always be the most aesthetically pleasing, but draft guards attached to the underside of your exterior doors will help with drafts letting unwanted cold air in your home this winter. You can get them for $10-$15 any hardware store.
7. Chimney balloon
I had never heard of one of these either, thank you internet. Chimneys are a huge source of heat loss in many homes, the chimney balloon will plug this draft up and can be easily removed when you want to use the fireplace. There are many brands available, here is one we found that appears to have positive reviews.
8. Check your air ducts
While a visual inspection of an air duct system is included in most heater or furnace tuneups, there are better and more in depth ways of checking to see how much heat loss you have in your air duct system. Some contractors (we happen to be one of them) have infrared equipment and can show you where your air ducts may be leaking, as well as price repairs to the duct system.
It’s estimated that in some homes, as much as 30% of the utilities associated with heating and cooling the home are lost due to inefficient ductwork.
These proactive steps can help you save money and retain heat this winter. If you’re worried that your heating or cooling system simply isn’t working, give us a call, we’d be happy to help you figure out a solution.