First, Start Outside
From Mark Welstead, Rainbow International: Clean out gutters of all debris and position downspouts away from your home’s foundation. Cut away tree branches that hang over your house. Snow buildup on branches can be heavy and cause them to fall.
Check Your Windows
Protect Your Water Lines
Reset the Humidity Level
From Richard Ciresi, Aire Serv: Use humidifiers with controls to reset the humidity level based on the outside air temperature. This combination will keep frost from forming as the chosen humidity level will be lowered while outside temperatures fall and be restored to normal during less severe weather. We recommend a normal humidity level of 35 to 45 percent. However, as temperatures dip into single digits, it should be set closer to 20 percent.
Get Your Faucets Ready
From Amanda Sims, Mr. Rooter Plumbing: Allow a small trickle of cold water to run from your faucet. This will keep water moving in your pipes, preventing freezing. Open under-sink cabinet doors to keep warm room air circulating around the pipes.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
From Richard Ciresi, Aire Serv: A programmable thermostat makes life a little bit easier by allowing you to set your desired temperature and then not have to worry about it anymore. In the winter, a programmable thermostat allows you to save money on your energy bills. In fact, studies show that you can save one percent for every eight hours you set your thermostat down. Here’s how to set your programmable thermostat in the winter:
Use energy-saving setbacks: These are most beneficial if they last at least eight hours at a time. The best times for setbacks are during the day while you’re away at work and at night when everyone is asleep. The longer each setback period is and the further you set the temperature back, the more you’ll save.
Change the temperature by only a degree or two: When you do decide to override the setting, don’t crank the programmable thermostat way up. This doesn’t heat your home any faster and only stands to waste energy.
Do a Quick Refrigerator Check
From Team, Mr. Appliance:
Set the Temperature for Energy Efficiency: The optimal refrigerator setting for food safety and energy efficiency is 36 to 38 degrees F. You should also keep the freezer at 0 to 5 degrees F. Setting your appliances any colder than this wastes energy.
Check the Rubber Door Gasket: In order to create a tight seal, refrigerators have a rubber gasket running around the door. Over time, the seal can weaken as the gasket collects debris and wears out with age. When this happens, warm air enters the refrigerator, forcing it to work harder to remove the additional heat. This means higher energy bills and a refrigerator that wears out faster. To help the door gasket last longer, clean it periodically with an all-purpose cleaner. If you suspect the gasket is losing its ability to seal tightly, conduct a simple test: shut the door on a dollar bill and if it slides out easily, the gasket isn’t sealing tightly.