We’ve had a really nice fall so far, but we all know those wintry days are just around the corner. Prepare your Chicago home for falling temps now to avoid higher than necessary utility bills in the months to come.
- Locate potential draft issues. Little cracks, broken seals and misaligned doors/windows can let cool air in and heated air out in the winter, costing you extra dollars to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Find those problem areas early by having a friend shine a bright flashlight from outside around closed doors to see if it shines through in any spots. Hold a lit candle next to interior window edges and watch for air leaks that make the flame waver (works best on a windy day).
- Make fireplaces airtight. Fireplaces are a direct outlet to outdoor weather. That means cold gusts can easily come in through this passage if you do not properly seal off the opening. If you have doors on your fireplace already, make sure they close tightly and have a good seal. Add a set of energy-efficient doors to hearths without for the best protection from cold air getting in and heated air escaping.
- Inspect the roof. The last thing you need during the winter (and the subsequent spring thaw) is a defective roof. Look for loose/curled shingles, broken or clogged gutters (clean them out now to avoid ice dams later), rotten wood that needs to be replaced and other damaged areas. This is a good time to reseal/caulk flashings to help keep water from leaking into the attic or top floor of your property.
- Add insulation to the attic. The general rule-of-thumb on insulation is to have 12 inches minimum. Usually, if you can see the ceiling joists in the attic you do not have enough.
- Regularly change/clean furnace filters. Keep your furnace running at its maximum efficiency by replacing the filters at least once a month during the winter. Try reusable electrostatic “green” filters for a money-saving alternative to the traditional fiberglass kind. These can be washed and reinserted so you don’t have to buy new ones every month.
- Reverse fan direction. Ceiling fans don’t just provide a cool breeze in the summer, they help push warm air down in the winter. This recirculation of air works to maintain a more comfortable, evenly-heated environment. Remember this tip: the blades should turn in a clockwise direction during the winter.
These are helpful hints for Chicago homesellers to follow as well. You can use the increased energy-efficiency as a selling point.