Come February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil will tell us whether we can expect 6 more weeks of winter or not.  While we are waiting to transition from winter to spring, there are some things we can do to keep our homes toasty warm that are in general inexpensive.

Recently, we built a new house and hadn’t weather stripped basement door until December.  By doing this, we noticed that there wasn’t a cold spot in our house anymore.  Often, doors and windows are an overlooked source of air leakage.  Weather stripping will keep warm air in and cold air out.

Thermostats that you can move the bar between 50 and 90 degrees are outdated.  Usually, you’ll find these in older homes. These thermostats regulate heat inefficiently compared to programmable thermostats. Recent innovations in the technology allow you to control newer thermostats with your mobile phone and input lower temperatures for certain times of day — saving you money on your utility bill while ensuring a warm house when you walk in the door.

Especially in the South, burst and frozen pipes are a major driver for winter home repairs. Freezes are unexpected and pipes are ill-prepared to handle. Pipes should be wrapped in heat tape and insulated with fiberglass or foam-rubber to prepare for any kind of freeze.

An alternative source to stay warm and reduce running your heat is using your fireplace.  Creosote is an oil that comes from coal and wood and it builds up making it highly combustible and flammable. We would highly recommend chimney professionals to clean your chimney of creosote and check for signs of leaks and other hazards. You can hire a professional for about $300. This is an extensive job; inexperienced homeowners are not advised to do it on their own.

Another way that isn’t often used during the winter is your ceiling fan.  You can use your ceiling fan to keep the cold air out of a room by changing its rotation. Most homeowners forget about utilizing the ceiling fan during the winter, but it can cut monthly heating costs by almost 10%. There is a reverse switch above the blades; when activated, the fan’s blades push cold air up into the ceiling and the warm air down into the room. This project saves you money and costs just a few minutes of your time. (Just remember to hit the switch again in spring so the hot air starts going back towards the ceiling.)

While watching the snow blanket the yard can be peaceful and pretty, the walk to the car the next morning can be perilous. Keep sidewalk salt handy to prevent slips and falls. And keep a shovel in the garage or near the front door to cut a clear path for your family and neighbors.

Most of this can be done as a do-it yourself and materials can be purchased at your local hardware store.  However, if you’re not up for a do-it yourself, consider hiring a licensed and qualified handyman or professional that can help you.  May you and your family stay toasty the rest of the winter and let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow.

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