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Winterization Tips to Stay Warm and Save Money

by Daniel Estevao on November 21, 2015

We’ll be seeing some overnight freezing next week in the Lakewood/Tacoma area, with some possible snow soon. And as we know already, winter in the Pacific Northwest is long, dark, and cold. This calls for a game plan. If you want to learn how to stay warm and save money on your heating bills at the same time, continue reading.

winterization tips to save money and energy

Although it is always important to save money and energy at home, it becomes particularly important in the winter when you spend over 90% of your time indoors and rely on your heating equipment every day. Winter is the time for indoor enjoyment.

Home winterization may seem like an unnecessary chore, but most of these projects are quick and easy and will make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient, saving you hundreds on your heating and energy bills. By completing all of the following tasks, you can easily save up to 40% off your home heating bill.

Winterization Tips for Comfort, Safety, and Efficiency

There is plenty that you can do to maintain a safe, efficient, and comfortable home during the dark days of winter:

1.  Maintain and Tune Up Your Heating Equipment

Firstly, make sure you have scheduled your professional heating/furnace tune-up for winter. By neglecting annual furnace maintenance, you are risking voiding your manufacturer warranty, a mid-winter breakdown, unsafe conditions, and higher energy bills. For these reasons, it is essential that you schedule a heating tune-up to get through another Washington winter.

Your professional furnace tune-up includes:
  • Checking insulation and ventilation levels
  • Testing and tightening all electrical connections and components
  • Cleaning blower housing and motor assembly
  • Inspecting all fuel and vent pipes for proper operation
  • Lubricating blower and other moving parts
  • Running system diagnostics and testing thermostat controls
  • Inspecting heat exchanger for leaks, damage, and proper CO gas hazards

The most common and dangerous source of poor indoor air quality problems is with exhaust systems such as your furnace, car, oven, fireplace, generator, and other gas-powered appliances.

To ensure proper ventilation of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO), make sure you have a professional tune-up every year and CO detectors installed throughout the home!

Use these two home maps to determine where you need smoke alarms, CO detectors, and fire extinguishers:

carbon monoxide home map

CO, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher map

Source: Kidde/Home Depot

2.  Seal and Insulate

  • Insulate old windows and doors or any crawl spaces where cold air can creep in. Use a draft snake or rolled up towel under drafty doors.
  • Air seal and insulate your attic to prevent warm air from escaping your home.
  • Consider installing double or triple-paned windows, storm doors and windows, and window insulation film, to save money on energy costs. You can also use some regular bubble wrap to help insulate your windows. Simply cut to size and use double-sided tape to keep it in place. Although we haven’t tested it, apparently you can try misting some water on your window and gently pressing the bubble side against the window to hold it against the surface. Try this first; if it doesn’t work, use tape.
  • Seal up air leaks in your HVAC duct system with mastic sealant and/or aluminum foil tape.
  • Clean all debris from the roof to extend its longevity.
  • Conduct a visual inspection of your roof and schedule roof maintenance/repair if necessary.
  • Replace damaged roof shingles as it helps to insulate the house and extend the life of your roof.
  • After any major insulation project, always consult an HVAC professional for proper ventilation levels.

3.  Winter Hacks

  • Run your ceiling fans in reverse (clockwise) during winter. This will gently draw the cold room air up and push warmer air down, distributing it evenly throughout the room. Simply flip the little black switch at the base of your ceiling fan.
  • Get a programmable thermostat to control temperatures indoors – especially if you plan to go on vacation for long periods of time when set inside temperatures can be lower, which will save energy costs. We recommend setting your thermostat to 68°F while at home, and lower while asleep or away. You can save about 1% on your heating bill for every 1 degree you set your thermostat back, for a period of 8 hours or more (energy.gov).
  • Check for water leaks in your plumbing system and outdoor irrigation and have them repaired immediately. You can save nearly 10% on water heating costs and avoid scalding burns by simply turning down the temperature from 140°F to 120°F.
  • Change furnace filters regularly for optimal efficiency of your HVAC system. A good rule of thumb is to replace your filter every 30-60 days.

How to Change Your Furnace Filter

3.  Outside Maintenance

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses and sprinkler systems, and place in a safe storage area for the dormant winter months.
  • Clear gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Consider investing in gutter guards, such as Raindrop Gutter Guard Systems.
  • Store outdoor and patio furniture inside.
  • Cover outside firewood to keep it dry.
  • Walk around the perimeter of your home looking for air leaks near your foundation, doors, windows, and where utility pipes and wires enter the home. Seal with caulk and/or expandable foam spray.

Lastly and most importantly, schedule professional maintenance for your heating, cooling, and water heating equipment.

More Home Winterization Tips


Call Pacific Air Systems Heating & Cooling at 253.292.3995 for 24/7 service!

Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

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