Winter comes early here in Vermont and usually stays longer than most of us would like, but that's nature and we all make the best of it! Then there are some of us that love winter and can't wait for the snow to fall - well these Vermonters are in luck because snow showers are in the weather forecast for today and tomorrow! We've already had some snow in the higher elevations - Mt. Mansfield, Camel's Hump, etc. And apparently the ski guns are already starting to shoot out their frozen water at some ski areas. Bottom line is Old Man Winter is coming - are you ready?? More importantly...is your HOME ready? Here are some helpful tips to keep your home green when it's white outside:
Change your furnace filter once a month to keep your furnace running more efficiently and keep the air in your home cleaner. This can cut your heating costs by as much as 5 % !! You can buy a new filter at any local hardware store or at Lowe's where they have an entire webpage on their website to help you decide which filter is best for your furnace, home and budget. A new filter can reduce the dust in your home as well!
Don't block heat vents or radiators. Air will circulate better when unobstructed.
You can also make sure to keep your heating bills low by winterizing your windows, doors, attics and basements. Use weather-stripping around any older drafty windows and doors. Or if you've got some extra money and want to invest in your home, may decide to upgrade your windows. Most new Energy Star windows qualify for a federal tax credit for energy efficiency in which you can get up to $1500 of the cost credited to your tax return. For specifics on this visit Energy Star's website or ask a tax consultant. If you are seeing ice dams on your roof, you may have heat escaping from your attic causing snow to melt and freeze. This can affect your energy bills as well as risk serious damage to your roof. Insulate your attic! It's an easy do-it-yourself project! Remember the pink panther? Well he's the mascot for the Owens Corning brand and they have a lot of great advice on this simple home project. And insulating your attic (or basement) qualifies for a tax credit too!
Turn your water heater down to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Trust me, the water will still be plenty warm enough for showering and dishwashing. Also, put some sort of wrap or blanket around your water heater to keep heat from escaping. Here are some great tips for insulating your water heater from the U.S. Department of Energy. You can cut your water-heating costs by 6-10% if you follow some of this advice!
Finally, when shoveling or plowing snow in your yard or driveway, be sure to keep your furnace exhaust system outlet free from snow or any other objects. This vent blows out carbon monoxide from your heating system. If it gets blocked CO2 can build up in your home and the only way you would know is if you have CO2 detectors because this deadly gas is completely odorless. In addition, make sure the batteries in your CO2 and fire detectors are charged and working properly.