Are you prepared for the winter months ahead? One of our preferred carriers, Capital Insurance Group (CIG), gets you ready to winterize your home or vacation home and auto with these helpful winterization tips.
Winterize Your Home
Control your comfort and home energy costs over the winter season. The tips below can keep you warm and keep money in your pocket, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Have your heating system inspected and tuned-up by a certified HVAC technician.
- Apply weather stripping or caulking around drafty doors and windows to increase your home’s energy efficiency up to 30%.
- Inspect your ductwork for leaks and seal with insulated tape or “jacket covers.” Current studies show that as much as 30% of air escapes from the average home’s duct system.
- Make sure all water pipes are properly insulated.
- Replace or clean furnace filters at least once a month, particularly during the winter season. Dirty filters decrease airflow and increase energy demand.
- Make sure your attic floor and basement ceiling have adequate insulation, so your heat is concentrated where you need it most.
- Install storm doors and windows to help seal drafts and increase energy efficiency by 45%.
- Reduce the heat setting on your water heater. Conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but lowering the temperature to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit could reduce your water heating costs from 6% to 10%.
- Cover your water heater with an insulation blanket.
- Install draft stoppers at the bottom of exterior doors and windows. Drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use.
- Hang tight-fitting, insulated curtains, drapes or shades on all windows.
- Set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise. Warm air rising to the ceiling will circulate back to the living space below and cut your heating costs by as much as 10%.
- Keep doors and windows closed when heat is on.
- Adjust the heat when away from home. For every degree you lower the thermostat over winter, you’ll save between 1% and 3% on your heating bill. A programmable thermostat will help control comfort and energy costs for your home.
- Consider replacing appliances with new, energy-efficient models. Look for the Energy Star label.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Each year, there are an estimated 583,400 motor vehicle crashes caused by snow, sleet and icy road conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic before the winter winds blow. Winterize your vehicle and stay safe with these helpful tips.
- Adjust tire pressure. Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop, which leads to less contact with the road. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tire’s air pressure will drop about 1psi (pounds per square inch). A properly inflated tire ensures the best possible contact between the road and the tires, which is essential for safe traction when driving in wintry conditions. Your tires should also have at least a 6/32" deep tread, according to TireRack.com. Be sure to check with a local mechanic is you are unsure.
- Inspect and clean the battery. Extremely cold temperatures can drastically affect the performance of your vehicle’s battery. Have a certified mechanic run a battery load test and clean up any corrosion around posts and connections.
- Change the oil and viscosity. Colder temperatures cause your vehicle’s oil to thicken preventing it from properly lubricating the engine. Make sure you refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the right viscosity level and check the oil at least once a month.
- Inspect belts and hoses for any signs of wear and tear. Cold temperatures weaken the belts and hoses that help make your engine run. Have damaged parts replaced immediately.
- Check your anti-freeze mixture. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water will help prevent the coolant in your radiator from freezing.
- Replace windshield wiper blades if they look frayed or worn. Remember, most wiper blades are only good for one year. Always top off windshield washer fluid with a brand that is rated for lower freezing temperatures.
- Make sure headlights are clean and free of debris.
- Consider getting snow tires. Swap out all-season tires for snow tires specifically designed for better traction in snow and ice.
- Check your four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive can provide better traction on snow, but only when working properly. Have your 4WD inspected by a certified mechanic before the snow falls.
- Be prepared with a vehicle emergency kit. Visit Ready.gov to learn more vehicle safety tips and how to make an emergency kit for your car.