Baltimore (USA) City snowplow on the job – Winters can be harsh at many places. Photo Courtesy: Waqas Bhatti
There’s no question that winters in the Mid-Atlantic can be a little fierce. Although, we have gotten lucky the past two years in Baltimore and elsewhere, that doesn’t mean that Old Man Winter will be as kind to us this year too. In fact, he probably won’t.
Luckily, we have plenty of time in the Baltimore area to take care of issues in our homes in order to make them ready for the cold hand of winter. Most of these precautions are easy to take and cost-effective. Here are the top four things you should certainly consider:
1. Get Your Heating and Air Conditioning in Order
Americans will spend thousands of dollars each year on their energy bills, and a good portion of this will come from heating and cooling. If you are concerned about your heating bill, the first thing you should do is get your HVAC repairman to do a yearly maintenance check. This will ensure your unit is in top working condition and not using extra energy to heat your Baltimore home. A heating and air conditioning repair service can look, fix, and replace your unit, but there are things you can do without the help of a professional. You can do yourself a favor and clean the air filter of the unit once a month and replace it when worn out.
In addition to this, you should also consider putting in a new thermostat to regulate energy use in the home. The US Department of Energy estimates that installing a programmable thermostat can reduce your overall energy bill by ten percent. Finally, an easy way to naturally heat your home is to simply open up the curtains during the day. This will allow natural heat from the sun to come in, requiring you to use your heater less.
2. Insulate Exposed Piping
Above: Exposed pipes outside Bart’s home. He says, “Those short little blue pipes leading into and out of our tankless water heater are quite exposed to the elements. They froze over night, with the result that we had no water from our hot taps this morning. By the afternoon they were thawed and appeared to be no worse for the wear. I tried to pick up some pipe insulation, but the local stores were all sold out. So I improvised, and wrapped the pipes in some foam cut from a mattress pad, which I secured with some garbage-bag twist-ties.” Photo & Info Courtesy: Bart Everson
When it gets cold enough outside, any exposed pipes run the risk of freezing, causing them to burst. In order to prevent this, take inventory of your home and see if there are pipes that could possibly freeze over during the winter months. If you find any, make sure to insulate them immediately.
3. Check for Air Leaks through Your Windows
If you have not had your windows replaced in a decade or so, it might make sense to get them replaced with energy-saving windows to prevent heat loss. If you don’t have the money to do this, you should certainly at least take the time to inspect your windows for any air leaks. If you find any, make sure to caulk them to prevent further energy loss.
4. Start Preparing that Pantry Now
You’re not the type to go crazy when word of a blizzard is coming, are you? If you’re one of the many people who hear the word blizzard and immediately run out for bread, eggs and milk, do yourself a favor and create an emergency supply right away in case the power does go out and you have to make do for a few days. A few good items to start with are gallons of water, flashlights with extra batteries, canned foods with a manual can opener, pet food for your pets and a first aid kit.
Sam Mercer is a local Baltimore freelance writer who does construction during the summer. He hates the movie, The Money Pit, because it reminds him of the first home he bought!