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December 1, 2014

Hickory Construction Offers Tips to Winterize Homes and Businesses to Save Money and Energy

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With predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Farmer’s Almanac for a colder and drier winter in the Southeast this year, Hickory Construction, Inc. offers a few helpful tips for winterizing properties. There are several easy do-it-yourself fixes, which could make a difference in the energy costs. Even with Tennessee’s relatively mild winters, these simple, cost-saving measures will assure that you won’t be left out in the cold.

  • Schedule semi-annual cleaning of your HVAC system, spring and fall preferably. Dirt and neglect can cause equipment to overwork which can lead to higher utility fees. Change furnace filters at least once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing your equipment to work inefficiently and increase energy demand.
  • Inspect air supply ducts and make sure they are properly insulated and sealed. According to The U.S. Department of Energy, neglected ducts can cause up to 60 percent of air lost before it reaches the vents.
  • If you have storm windows, now would be the proper time to install them. Check the caulking and weather stripping around your windows and doors to minimize air infiltration.
  • If you have drafty windows and can’t replace them, try a window insulator kit for an inexpensive short-term fix. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5-30 percent of energy use.
  • Reverse your ceiling fan blades from the counterclockwise summer operation that pulls cool air up, to the clockwise winter operation that pushes warm air down.
  • Check for any plumbing pipes in unconditioned spaces and insulate accordingly. It is best not to have these pipes in unconditioned spaces, but if you do please insulate them.
  • Turn the temperature down on your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees, which could save $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses, and more than $400 in demand losses according to the Department of Energy. If you can upgrade to tankless or solar water heater, you can save even more. Energy Star cites you can save $140 annually or $2,900 over the lifetime of the water heater, if you combine solar with a backup gas storage water heater instead of using the gas water heater alone. A solar water heater can also cut your carbon dioxide emissions in half.
  • Drain all outdoor plumbing pipes, including hose bibs and irrigation systems.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year.
  • Boost insulation. Make sure you have proper insulations between walls, ceilings and floors.
  • Make sure sidewalks and building entryways are free of ice. Be cautious with chemical de-icers as many products can cause damage to concrete and landscaping.
  • Keep your gutters clean and free of debris. Gutters that are full of leaves can result in ice damming, which can lead to costly outdoor repairs — damaged shingles, roof leaks, broken gutters, etc.

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