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National - Winter Advice

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WINTER ADVICE

Now that winter is here, it is time to consider a little preventive home maintenance. No matter where your home is located, Old Man Winter is sure to create a change in your climate. You’re likely to turn on your heater, light your fireplace, etc. and for this, there are precautions involved. Here is a list of things to consider in preparing your home and keeping it safe for your family:

Fire Prevention

  • Check your CO detector (if you do not have one, buy one.)
  • Check all smoke detectors and change the batteries.
  • Talk to your children about fire prevention, then plan a fire escape route with your family and hold a practice drill. (If your home is two or more stories high, ask about our Chains of Life – you’ll feel much safer.)
  • Check your garage for flammable items – and insure that they are stored correctly.
  • Check your fire extinguishers (at the minimum, every kitchen should have one).

Home Exterior

  • Reinstall storm windows and replace worn weather-stripping around exterior doors.
  • Drain your garden hoses.
  • Check hose bibs (if you are in a cold climate) check for unprotected pipes.
  • Get the gutters cleaned and inspect them to assure they are securely attached and working properly.
  • Trim trees and remove the dead branches.
  • If you have a basement, check to see if the windows are shut tightly and the weather stripping is secure.
  • Check chimneys for lose, deteriorated, or missing bricks or mortar. (It’s a good idea to have your fireplace inspected and your chimney cleaned prior to your first use of the season.)
  • Examine caulking for deterioration around doors, windows, and joints between wood and masonry.
  • Close vents to crawl spaces (especially near plumbing).

Heating System

  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced for fuel efficiency.
  • Check the following items on gas-fired furnaces:
    • Check for leaks
    • Inspect the blower system
    • Inspect gas lines and flue system
    • Check filter and heat exchanger
  • Change your furnace filter on a regular basis to save money on repair costs later.
  • Service oil-fired furnaces annually. (Depending on the age of the unit and how clean it burns, the flue may have to be cleaned annually as well.)
  • Boilers need to be serviced annually as well, either hot-water systems or steam.
  • Heat pumps and electric furnaces also need to have annual inspection to prevent breakdowns.
  • Outside air conditioning units should be covered.
  • Spending time and money on home maintenance now will keep your family safe and save you money in the months to come.

How to Save Money on Your Energy Bills

Sources report that homeowners spend an average of $1,300 a year on utility bills, most of which is wasted energy from poorly insulated windows and doors. Simple energy efficient improvements can save 10% - 50% on your energy bills. For example, did you know that in many homes, heat loss and gain through and around windows accounts for more than 25% of a home’s heating and cooling bills?

You can start saving money now with Handyman Network’s Energy Saver Solution™. It begins with The Energy Saver Audit™, a 17-point inspection of the key areas of your home where you can save energy and increase your comfort. Once the audit is performed, you will get specific solutions that can save you thousands of dollars in energy costs.

Call your local Handyman Network office to schedule your audit. But in the meantime, here are some tips to get start your savings now:

  • If your home has gas or oil hot-water storage tanks and pipes, you should insulate them, being careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. (If you have any questions, please ask.)
  • Reduce your utility bill by turning down the thermostat from 70ºF to 65ºF. Lowering it even further, to 60ºF, can save another 18%.
  • Insulate doors and windows with plastic, caulk and/or weather stripping.
  • Install a programmable thermostat or set your thermostat back at night.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
  • Remember to turn off lights when they are not needed.
  • Change light switches to dimmer switches and use lower-wattage bulbs when possible.

Handyman Network can increase the energy efficiency of your home today. Learn how our program can help you eliminate the hassles of wintertime home maintenance tasks and save you time and money.

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