Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowy New England: winterizing your home

It is the end of December in New England and suddenly those energy bills don't look so harmless. Before you get upset at the record snowfall though, consider the benefits of the white flakes. If your roof is in good condition and well insulated, snow will only act as another layer of effective insulation. The air spaces between the snow crystals in a blanket of loosely packed snow serve as insulation - a deep-freeze duvet - for your home.

We all know about the obvious weatherproofing techniques and products: double pane windows, insulation, a caulk gun, weatherstripping. What about some things that can help but are less obvious? Whether your house has a basement or you are situated on a slab, consider an area rug for the tiled bathrooms and/or kitchen, even if it is there only for the winter. Check power outlets and recessed lights as those can often leak air. Keep your blinds open on sunny days to take advantage of solar gain. For your heating system to run efficiently be sure to replace the filter regularly. Consider investing in a high quality storm door that does not leak air when you are bringing in groceries and have the entry door open.

Depending on the electricity costs in your area you may also look into an electric fireplace for certain rooms in the house. It enables you to lower the overall heat in the home while maintaining a comfortable temperature in rooms you occupy most. Of course this would likely not be efficient in a small apartment, but can have a significant impact in a large home, especially if you have kids away at college and many unused rooms.

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