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Winter Blog Series, Part 2: Preparing Your Home

Park Avenue Properties - Sunday, November 13, 2016

Welcome back for the second installment of Park Avenue Properties’ winter series! Last week we discussed important tips for preparing the exterior of your home for the coming winter weather. But preparing the interior of your home is just as important as preparing the exterior, especially for keeping your energy costs down. Don’t know where to start? No worries! We’ve got you covered with these tips that will save you money and help prevent catastrophes at your abode this winter.   

So grab your hot apple cider and your favorite cozy sweater, this week we’re taking it inside and discussing renter friendly home interior winter preparation tips. Let’s get started!

Give Back To Your HVAC
When temperatures drop, the last thing you want is a heating system that isn’t working. But you also don’t want a system that will be an energy hog. Use these simple tips to help keep your system operating and your heating bill as low as the temperatures outside!  

  • Air filters should be changed every few months but it’s especially important in the winter months. Having fresh air filters in your system means the air will be able to circulate through the home easier; whereas having dirty air filters will obstruct the flow of air. Having that obstruction means your heating system will have to work even harder to do it’s job--heat your home! If your system is having to work harder you will be looking at a bill that is higher than necessary.
Bonus Benefit: Regularly changing your air filters keeps the air quality of your home high. Dust and debris collect on used air filters, and the system will blow that dust and debris around your home, which can aggravate allergies and asthma. Changing out air filters is just as good for your health as it is for the health of your home!
  • If your home has a furnace that has been sitting dormant during the warmer months, take the time to inspect the unit and give the components a little dusting. It is especially important to ensure that the burners of the furnace are free from dust. This is also a great time to check that the blower belt is free from cracks, which may lead to a broken belt (and a non-functioning furnace) down the road. Once you’ve inspected the furnace, turn it on for a quick test run to ensure that it is running smoothly and not making any strange noises. 
  • If you have a heat pump, you’ve probably been using the system all year for it’s air cooling features. There is no need to go through a formal inspection or dusting as you would with a furnace that has not been used for nearly a year. 
Know Your Home: Don’t know if you have a furnace or heat pump? An easy way to know the difference is by the energy source used to power it. A furnace is powered by gas, whereas a heat pump is a part of your AC unit and is powered by electricity.   
  • Did you know one of the best ways to save money on your heating bill in the winter is by turning the heat down while you’re away and while you sleep? Prepare to use this money saving tip by setting up your programmable thermostat.
  • Don’t have a programmable thermostat in your home? Don’t sweat it! You can still cash in on this tip with a little planning. Simply manually turn down the heat before you leave the house in the morning and before you tuck yourself in for your long winter’s nap! Think you might forget? Set an alarm on your smartphone or other device to send you a reminder fifteen minutes before you normally leave or turn in. Or leave yourself a note by the door to remind you.
  • How much should you plan to turn it down? Aim for about five degrees cooler than your usual comfort level. You don’t want the house to get so cool that the heating system has to work extra hard when you kick the heat back on, which will eat up the savings you earned by turning it down in the first place!
  • Make sure to check that all your air vents are unobstructed. During the shuffle of a move in, the excitement of a re-decorating scheme or just accidentally over time, you may find that you have inadvertently blocked or covered an air vent. This is especially true for those with floor vents. Take a few moments to make sure that the vents around your home are unobstructed, open (in the rooms that you plan to heat) and dusted. 
Seal The Deal
Air leaks around the home are one of the sneakiest ways our heating bill can creep up. Cracks and gaps around doors and windows suck the warmth right out of the house and make your heating system work harder to keep the space warm. Here are a few easy and inexpensive things you can do to seal those air leaks and keep the heat in:

  • First, insulate your exterior doors. An easy way to check your door for leaks is to place a sheet of paper on the threshold and close the door over the sheet of paper. If the paper easily slides out, the space under the door is too wide. This can easily be fixed with a weather stripping door sweep from your local hardware store. If you can feel cool air seeping in between the door and the frame, even when the door is closed, you have a leak around the door jamb. Seal your door with weather stripping door seals around the door jamb to stop those air leaks. 
  • Windows are another key place where you are likely to have leaks. An easy way to keep your cash from flying out the window is to invest in an at-home window insulation kit. These inexpensive kits are easy to use and easy to remove when you are ready to take them down. The money you save from the lower heating bill far outweighs the cost of a few of these kits. 
  • Surprisingly, outlets and light switches are another spot where leaks can happen. Sometimes you can even feel cool air seeping in around the plate! Again, investing in an at-home outlet and wall plate insulation kit can save you big. They are super cheap, easy to install and, the best part, reusable, so you can take them with you when you leave your rental home! 
Small Changes, Big Savings
Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make the biggest impact. Preparing the interior of your home for the winter months doesn’t need to be a huge project! Here are a few other ideas to help keep you cozy on a budget:

  • It’s curtains for you! Closing up a heavy set of drapes during the night can help insulate your home from the cold that can seep in through the window. This old school trick for keeping in the warmth is super easy to implement and super fun! End your autumn with a fun redecorating project to keep you warm over the winter. Keep it simple or go all out, and when you leave your current home sweet home, you can take your fun new decor with you! 
  • Don’t forget to let the sun in. Those new drapes are great at night for keeping in the warmth, but during the day take advantage of nature's heating element, the sun! Open those fabulous drapes up and let the sun in. This typically works best on windows that face south. 
  • Close your doors and some of your vents. Don’t pay to heat the spaces that you don’t need to! If you don’t use a room, close the heating vents in the room and keep the door closed. Likewise, keep your closet doors closed. 
  • Ceiling fans aren’t just for cooling. Fans have angled blades; when the fan runs counterclockwise it blows the air downward providing a cooling effect on the room below. But did you know that most ceiling fans offer a reversal switch? Reversing the direction the blades spin to clockwise forces the warm air, which rises upward, back down to warm your space! For best results, keep the fan on low speed so you aren’t blowing air around and creating a cooling effect. 
We hope these tips help you to prepare the inside of your home for this coming winter and create a cozy space for you to enjoy against the cold! Don’t forget that we at Park Avenue Properties are here for you! Think that heating system isn’t working? Give us call! We’d be happy to help resolve whatever issues you face against Old Man Winter! 

Are you enjoying our winter series? Let us know! Leave us a comment on Facebook, follow us if you haven’t already and keep an eye out for more winter fun to come. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for tips, decor and more, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for exciting home tours!
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