How to save money heating your home this winter

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Winter Heating

Editors Note: The Team here at myAlgoma would like to welcome and introduce Bill Nash, “The Handyman”, as our newest contributing columnist. We greatly appreciate your contributions Bill and hope our readers enjoy this valuable content!

As a retired Handyman, I am often called upon by friends to help them with “problems” that pop up around the home. One issue that surfaces this time of year is “how do I keep my heating bill down?” Heating your home in the winter in Sault Ste. Marie needs us to be mindful of three things, … doors and windows, general insulation, and regular maintenance.

The government(s) and suppliers often collaborate on special incentives to upgrade doors and windows. If you have been considering this for sometime, then it may be worthwhile to look into. The payback period for these programs can often be decades, and the likelihood of you being in the same home for that time often make these programs non-feasible, so be wary of payback periods.

Door Weather StrippingIt is more likely you need some simple DIY upgrades that will have a significant impact on your heating bill without breaking your bank account. The heat loss through a solid wooden door as opposed to a steel door is negligible, until you consider how they seal. Steel doors offer the option of magnetic weather stripping, which will stop that drafty door from feeling cold. You should also replace worn door-sweeps at the bottom of your door. The holes in a steel door where your handles and dead-bolts are located often have voids which allow a great amount of heat loss. Simple removing of the hardware and filling the area around the holes with a non-expanding spray foam will fill these voids. After the foam dries, simply remove the excess with a utility knife, and reinstall the hardware. Don’t buy the snake oil sale of needing triple-pane gas-filled windows. Unless you have the dinosaur “Pearson” windows, you are fine with your double-pane windows. Similar to the problems with door handles and dead-bolts, if you have the popular casement windows, you may need to add some insulation in the voids found around the hardware. If you have problems with windows icing up, it may simply be because of high humidity in your home. A cheap dehumidifier will solve that problem, and also having moving air directed at the problem windows will lesson or eliminate ice build up.

Blow-in Attic InsulationThere are as many types of wall and ceiling insulation fixes as there are types of problems. If you are a victim of the “blow-in” insulation programs of the 70s, there isn’t much hope other than a major repair by a reputable insulation company. In short, usually your walls are not your main issue, … most heat is lost through the ceiling/attic. It may be a simple as adding additional insulation to your attic. This is easily and cheaply done with newer styles of blow-in attic insulation that many building suppliers carry. They often offer the free use of the blowers when you buy a certain quantity, so ask that question. While you don’t want your heat escaping into your attic, the heat that does find its way there has to be removed. Trapped heat will melt the snow on your roof, and cause ice damming and leaking water through your shingles. Warm air escaping through your eave system is the most common way to achieve this, and it may be hampered by insulation blocking the airflow to your eaves. This is easily solve by adding rafter venting which holds back the insulation to allow the air to flow through your attic. The other solution is to add passive roof vents to your roof. I am not fond of the “Whirlybird” type vents, as they are noisy and often compromise HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)systems. HVAC systems in modern homes are designed to work in a near-airtight home. A balanced air pressure is required for optimum performance of the systems, and “Whirlybird” vents can create a positive or negative air pressure in you home, thus counteracting the HVAC system.

Lastly, simple regular maintenance will help ensure optimum heating results for your home. This is as simple as installing programmable thermostats, replacing furnace filters yearly, having your ducting professionally cleaned, and replacing old or missing caulking around doors and windows. Keeping your home affordable to heat year round shouldn’t have to cost most home owners an investment that will take years to recoup.

Next up, … prioritizing the winter/spring “to-do” list.

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