What you and the professionals can do right now

Only the heartiest skiers and roof shovelers hope for a repeat of last winter. Even if you are one of those, you’ll still want to get your home ready to handle winter with warmth, safety, and comfort. Here’s a list of seven things you or a professional heating contractor can complete to winterize your home and prevent the kinds of problems that were so prevalent last year.

Reduce ice dams and icicles

  • Common causes: Poor ventilation and insulation in attic.
  • Solutions: Have a trained professional examine your home’s insulation R-values, air sealing efficiency, and ventilation. You can have this exam, and many more valuable tests, completed at no cost when you ask us for a free Isaac Home Energy Audit.

Stop pipes from freezing and bursting

  • Common causes: Cold air infiltration, pipes in unheated crawl spaces or basement areas.
  • Solutions:  Add pipe wrap from a home center or hardware store yourself; for a more complete review and problem discovery, have your heating contractor come in to investigate, find, and resolve issues

Even the heating throughout your home

  • Common causes: Lack of proper duct damper settings, poor duct design, cold air infiltration, covered vents.
  • Solutions: A great place to start is with heating duct damper adjustments. Your ideal positions for winter and summer – heating and A/C – will likely be different. Use a magic marker to note winter and summer settings once, and you can make the switchover twice a year in minutes. Make sure your heating supply and return vents are open and not blocked by furniture, draperies, or other obstructions. A secondary heating source is sometimes necessary for problem rooms. Other problems can be related to insulation, air sealing, and air circulation. Feel free to ask us about products like zoning systems that even out the heating and cooling.

Put an end to drafts

  • Common causes: Poor air sealing, old and cracked weather stripping, windows not completely closed.
  • Solutions: Examine the weather sealing around doors and windows. If old and diminished, effectiveness will be lost so replace it. Make sure all windows are closed and locked.

Protect your air conditioning system

  • Common causes: Snow and debris get into the outdoor unit of A/C systems.
  • Solutions: Cover only the top of your outdoor compressor, not the sides. A piece of plywood cut to size works well. If you cover the sides, moisture will be retained and can corrode your system.

Keep vents and flues free of snow and ice

  • Common causes: Snow and ice clog intake and exhaust vents in winter.
  • Solutions: Check weekly and after storm events and clear away any snow or ice. Important for any heating systems with through-the-wall venting. Ice or snow can impede airflow and cause the system to be less efficient or even shut down.

Have your programmable thermostat ready for the heating season

  • Common causes: Thermostat still set for summer and A/C or not operating automatically.
  • Solutions: Change settings from cooling to heating, and adjust times and temps appropriately for the winter months.

Finally, as we said, a no cost, no-obligation Isaac Home Energy Performance Whole House Audit takes a look at your entire home’s energy use, from appliances to heating to insulation and beyond. It’s comprehensive and free. (A $400 value at no cost to you as it is funded by New York State rebates.) And we’ll give you a report showing what improvements you can make, what they would cost, and the payback/return on investment for each. Then you know what to do first to make life more comfortable and less expensive. Ask your local Isaac office for details.