Insulate your home:
It doesn't cost a lot to do, but you'll make your money back quickly if you add insulation to your attic. Regardless of the climate, you should have at least 12 inches of insulation up there.
You don't need to learn about R-values or break out the measuring tape, instead, if you go into your attic and you can see the ceiling joints, you know you don't have enough insulation. Most ceiling joints are between ten and 11 inches.
If you're laying insulation on top of preexisting insulation, don't use the kind that has paper backing. It acts as a vapor barrier and can cause moisture problems in the insulation.
Check your furnace:
Turn your furnace on before you need it to make sure it's working before the cold weather hits us. Don't be alarmed when a weird smell is emitted. Open your windows and wait for it to dissipate. However, if the smell lasts for a long time, turn your furnace off and call a professional.
Consider cleaning your furnace annually. Costs will run about $100-$125. The inspector should:
· Make sure that the thermostat and pilot light are working properly.
· Make sure that the fuel pipe entering your furnace doesn't have a leak.
· Check the heat exchanger for cracks -- a crack can send carbon monoxide into the home.
· Change the filter.
Just like your air-conditioner, you should change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter will stop the air from flowing, reduce efficiency and can cause fire in extreme circumstances. Toss out your dirty fiberglass filters; reusable electrostatic or electronic filters can be washed.
Get your ducts in a row:
The U.S. Department of Energy says a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before it even reaches the vents if your ductwork is not well connected and insulated.
Your ducts may be exposed in your attic, basement and crawlspaces. You should repair pipes where they're pinched. This will stop impeding the flow of heated air into the house. You should also fix gaps with a metal-backed tape. Avoid using Duct tape because won't stand the test of time with a job like this.
It's also a good idea to vacuum your ducts every few years to clean out the dust, animal hair and other gunk that can gather in them. This will also help people with respiratory problems.
Don't forget the chimney:
Surprisingly, spring is the best time to think about cleaning your chimney, because chimney sweeps get incredibly busy later in the year. However, don't put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace.
Your chimney should be swept once a year because miscellaneous items can build up inside such as bird nests, tennis balls, dust and other items that may clog your chimney.
Consider purchasing a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen. This will keep birds, balls and other foreign items out of it. You should buy this based on durability, not appearance.
Reverse your fan:
This is one of the easiest things a homeowner can do. By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan from its summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to re-circulate, keeping you more comfortable. (Your blades should be turning clockwise.)
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.