With the summer coming to an end, it’s time to think about getting ready for the cooler fall and winter months ahead. A little extra effort now will save you money all winter long. These tips will help make this winter safe, comfortable, and healthy.
Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
Make sure all your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working correctly. Replace the batteries or detectors if necessary. If you cook on a gas range, use the fan on your stove hood, if it’s vented to the outside, to reduce your carbon monoxide exposure.
Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up
Get an annual furnace inspection to ensure the safety and efficiency of your home heating system. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs. Many utility companies offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians. Some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.
Change Furnace Filters
It’s important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand and costs. Better yet, consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle.
Relight Your Pilot Light
If you have a gas water heater or gas furnace that is not working, the pilot light on the heater may have accidentally become extinguished. For assistance relighting the pilot light, consult the water heater or furnace manual or contact Southern California Gas Company at 1-877-238-0092 to have a technician come out and relight the pilot.
Check for Any Leaks
Check windows, doors, and your foundation for air or water leaks. Once you identify areas where water might intrude, address these problems. Caulk cracks or install weather stripping where appropriate. For just a few dollars, pick up a window insulation kit at your local hardware or discount store. Properly installed, window plastic is essentially invisible. Shoring up any leaks will provide a more comfortable and trouble-free winter, and will help reduce heating costs. Ask a professional to handle repairs that are outside your comfort zone and be sure to request project estimates up front.
Prepare Your Outdoor Living Space
Clean out leaves and debris from the rain gutters. Clean up any overgrown vegetation. Cover up outdoor furniture, grills, and fire pits.
Run Fans in Reverse
Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer: air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space – cutting your heating costs as much as 10%!
Take Advantage of Tax Credits and Rebates
A host of lucrative tax credits can help homeowners install renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Various local, state and federal incentives exist to encourage the use of efficient windows and doors, insulation, roofing, HVAC, water heaters, and alternative energy technologies, like solar power, geothermal heating and cooling, biomass stoves, small wind turbines and even fuel cells. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Southern California Gas Company both offer a plethora of rebates for various energy efficient home upgrades.