If you believe the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Nashville is in for a warmer winter and heavier precipitation than usual in 2018-2019. Whether or not you put stock in long-range almanac predictions, two things are certain. Winter always means colder weather, and your HVAC system will get a workout.
If you’re like many local homeowners you have at least some sort of winter weather home maintenance routine. Maybe you seal drafty windows in a thin film of plastic, add thick rugs on hard floors and replace your furnace or heat pump filter.
Those steps can help make your home more comfortable, but there’s a lot more than you can do to save energy and stay warmer between now and springtime.
1. Common Air Leaks in Homes
How to Seal Attic Air Leaks with Insulation
If you haven’t inspected your attic insulation in a few years, now is the time. Chances are, you could use a little more. Loose or blown-in insulation is the simplest way to get another layer where you need it most. It covers existing insulation evenly and fills hard-to-find gaps along joists.
With old-school fiberglass insulation, consider laying a fresh blanket of unfaced batts (roll insulation) on top of the old. Tom Silva of This Old House says you should note the thickness of the existing insulation.
If it’s nice and fluffy and as tall as the floor joists, lay the new unfaced blanket insulation on top, perpendicular to the direction of the joists. Is the old insulation thin and doesn’t reach the top edge of the joists? You can lay the new insulation directly over the old to completely fill those spaces.
Sealing Air Leaks
Next, seal air leaks wherever you find them. Arm yourself with a caulk gun and seal drafty gaps around windows and doors. Check exterior doors for air leaks across the threshold. If the door sweep across the bottom of the door is damaged or old, replace it with a new one to create a better seal against cold air.
2. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans give you a gentle cooling breeze when the weather is hot and muggy. The same fan can help you stay warmer and lose less heat in winter. The trick is to change the direction that it rotates. Many fans have a small switch on the housing that lets you select a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
In winter, fans should turn clockwise. While it seems counterintuitive to send a breeze against the ceiling, the effect is brilliant. Warm air naturally rises. When your fans turn clockwise, they create a current that makes the warm air at the ceiling tumble back down into the room.
3. Regulate the Humidity in Your Home
You live in Middle Tennessee, so you’re already familiar with the effects of humidity. In summer, it can make 85 degrees feel much hotter and a lot more miserable. But in winter, higher humidity is a blessing. Raise the humidity in your home this winter, and you’ll feel warmer with a lower setting on the thermostat.
That’s because winter air is notoriously dry. Forced air heat can make the problem worse, as the precious little humidity in the air evaporates. This causes static electricity and dry skin, but it also makes you feel colder than you would with more humidity.
A humidifier can correct the problem. The EPA recommends an indoor humidity level between 30 and 60 percent, which adds the moisture that you need without risking a mold problem.
4. Consider a Smart Thermostat
The smart thermostat is one of the best new gadgets of this century. Honeywell and Nest are two of the most popular brands, and they do a lot more than simply setting the temperature.
Most smart thermostats begin as a device that adjusts the HVAC output and temperature in your home based on settings that you choose.
But Energy Star explains that every day, the thermostat learns a little more about the environment where it’s installed so that it can keep your home comfortable while saving the maximum amount of energy.
Based on the way that you live and how you occupy your home, a smart thermostat will adjust at night, during the day, and while you’re at work. If you have Wi-Fi in your home, you already have the technology needed to install a smart thermostat. Jewell Mechanical can help you choose the right one for your heating system, to avoid compatibility issues.
5. Schedule an HVAC Maintenance Checkup
Last but not least, seasonal maintenance keeps one of the most vital systems in your home working like it should, which saves energy and helps prevent premature system failure.
Jewell Mechanical HVAC technicians can evaluate your heating system, perform seasonal heating system maintenance tasks and handle necessary repairs. We can also identify potential problems to correct them before they become mid-winter disasters. If you need a new HVAC system, we can help with that, too.
Jewell Mechanical has served Nashville and the rest of Middle Tennessee since 2005. Give us a call today at (615) 469-5965, or contact us online.