The warm and beautiful Summer days of Ohio have come and gone for yet another year. The leaves have changed colors and the temperature is dropping rapidly. This can mean only one thing – freezing temperatures and that dreaded white stuff will soon be here. As we prepare ourselves mentally for the departure of the sun we also have to keep in mind that we need to prepare our homes.
Community Associations across Ohio will be physically affected by Ohio’s freezing temperatures this winter but residents can take the following simple steps to help protect their most valuable asset and keep warm.
- Drain outside spigots. Spigots which are not properly drained can freeze and burst causing damage to the outside and inside of homes. The first step is to locate the water shutoff valve inside the residence and turn it off. Usually the water shutoff for the spigot is on the other side of the wall or centrally located with all water shutoff valves in a utility area where the water enters the residence. After water is shut off inside then open the spigot outside to drain any residual. Then close the outside spigot once it is fully drained. This should help prevent the outside water pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Change furnace filters. Dirty air filters can restrict airflow through the furnace which will in turn cause the furnace to run inefficiently resulting in colder interior temperatures and higher energy costs. Filters can be obtained relatively inexpensively from a local hardware store. You can also purchase electrostatic and HEPA filters which last longer and filter more pollutants but can be more expensive.
- Have your furnace serviced. Furnaces should be serviced by a licensed and bonded service professional at least once a year or more as needed. Having your furnace serviced will not only insure that it is running at peak performance and efficiency but can also help to protect your residence from natural gas leaks.
- Stop drafts. A drafty residence results in elevated heating bills. Owners should consider adding weather stripping or draft guards to doors and windows, or even placing a simple plastic liner inside windows. All of these can be obtained from a local hardware store and will help keep cold air out and warm air in.
- Monitor your thermostat. Most of us like to keep our residence at a comfortable temperature somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees. But why should we pay to heat our homes to these temperatures when we aren’t there to enjoy them. Simply lowering the temperature to 65 degrees when not home for extended periods of the day can decrease wear on your heating system and lower you bill significantly. Many modern thermostats can be set to automatically lower the temperature during certain hours of certain days and some even can be controlled by smart phones.
- Reverse your ceiling fans. Warm air rises so why not push it back down? Many modern ceiling fans have switches that reverse the way they push air. Switching your fan to spin clockwise during the Winter will cause trapped warm air to push against the ceiling and run down the walls to help keep you warm.
While these simple and relatively inexpensive steps are not intended to be an exhaustive list of ways you can keep warm, they certainly will help. After all, what better way to keep your spirits up then by keeping your heating bill down?