The advent of crisp fall days is a reminder that it’s time to prepare for the coming winter months. Take time now for preventative maintenance that will save energy and prevent potential damage from winter storms.
Before freezing weather sets in, use foam rubber sleeves to insulate pipes along outside walls or in unheated areas such as basements and crawl spaces. According to HomeAdvisor, an online service that connects homeowners to local service professionals, a burst pipe can cost around $500 to repair and can cause up to $3,000 in additional damage.
Consider investing in a natural gas generator to provide energy during power outages. Because natural gas is delivered to the home via underground pipelines, it is less susceptible to weather disruptions. So, a natural gas generator can provide a reliable secondary energy source for your home.
To maximize home heating, check for leaks and air drafts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. home has enough leaks, holes and gaps to equal having a window open every day of the year. That can be quite costly, with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimating that the average homeowner wastes about 30% of their yearly energy use due to drafts.
To prevent that energy loss, seal baseboards and window joints with caulk and use weather stripping or window film kits to seal drafty windows and doors. For added protection, replace screens on doors and windows with storm versions. The DOE estimates that storm doors can reduce energy loss by up to 50%.
Because heat is one of the biggest winter energy expenses, pay particular attention to the heating system. For heating systems and fireplaces fueled by natural gas, winter preparation is fairly simple. Because natural gas burns cleanly, there is less need for chimney cleanings and equipment often requires less maintenance. However, heating equipment, fireplaces, chimneys and flues should be inspected to make sure they are operating safely and efficiently.
To maximize heating, inspect and clean heating vents and make sure there are no obstacles in front of vents to inhibit air flow.
Consider replacing a thermostat with a programmable unit to save on heating costs. According to the DOE, adjusting your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees during the workday when no one is home can save between 5% and 15% on energy costs. Turning the thermostat down by 8 degrees when no one is home and at night can save up to $180 a year in heating costs, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders.
Keeping your heat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit when people are home provides a comfortable temperature while reducing energy use. The California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center estimates that every degree that heat is lowered saves up to 5% in heating costs.
This article originally appeared in the 2023 Fall Winter issue of Natural Living and was written by Tonya McMurray. To find this article or to learn more about using natural gas in your home, click here to read Natural Living in its entirety.