Yes, it's time to think about this.....
We may have dodged the proverbial bullet with Hurricane Florence. Hopefully that was a wake up call (it was for me) to make sure that your family and home is prepared. This is a great time to make sure your home is ready for the next weather event headed our way (and winter too). By following these tips, it can help make your home safer and more energy-efficient:
Check for leaks:
Replace worn weather stripping and caulk.
If windows leak, consider replacing them with energy efficient models. If replacement is out of the question, install inexpensive window plastic for relief from wind and cold.
Inexpensive plastic, metal, or wooden draft stoppers can be screwed or glued to the bottoms of doors. Consider replacing old doors, or if you can afford it, hire a contractor to perform a blower door test on your home to locate air leaks.
Purchase and install foam gaskets behind the electric wall switch plates to prevent leaks. Close the damper on your fireplace when not in use. This also keeps small critters from flying or crawling around inside your chimney.
Close crawlspace vents during the summer and winter and leave open in spring and fall.
Have your heating and air conditioning systems checked. Remember, it's more cost effective to maintain than it is to repair. Professional service should include cleaning, checking, and lubricating the system.
Replace your heater's air filter monthly so the system will work more efficiently. Ensure that the thermostat and pilot lights work properly, and check ducts for leaks.
Consider updating your heating system to a modern one with an efficiency rating over 97%.
Use your setback thermostat. A setback thermostat turns the heat or the a/c down when you are away or sleeping, then puts the temperature at a more comfortable level when you are home during the day.
Check your insulation. Odds are you need to add insulation to your attic. In an older home, this is the most efficient way to reduce home heating costs. Make sure your home is insulated at all levels-floor, wall, and ceiling.
Outside, trim your trees of their dead branches to prevent weather-related winter accidents. Bundle them and put them on the curb on your garbage day.
Clean your gutters. Fallen leaves in rain gutters block water flow from rain and melting snow. Remember leaves need to be in paper bags, not in the plastic lawn bags if you live in Anne Arundel County.
Check the chimney. Install a screen to prevent falling leaves from blocking the chimney. If you need a good chimney/fireplace inspector, please reach out to me and I can let you know of a few good options I've used.
(photo courtesy of Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Waste Management's website https://www.aacounty.org/departments/public-works/waste-management)