(ARA) - As you button up your home for winter, you should take four important steps to ensure you save energy, money and stay toasty all season long.
When the temperature drops, we often grab a blanket to help stay warm. Adding insulation to your home is like wrapping it in a warm blanket. Insulating areas such as attics, basements and crawlspaces can make your home more comfortable and lower your energy bills.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, add insulation to your attic. If your insulation is at or below the floor joists, you likely need to add more -- 12 to 24 inches, depending on where you live.
Seal your windows
Even if windows are sealed with weather stripping, cold air can still enter through gaps. Use silicone caulk to seal air leaks or place shrink-wrap film over drafty windows to help reduce energy loss.
You can locate drafts on windy days by slowly moving a burning candle near the window. Whenever the flame moves or smoke blows, you've got an air leak that needs to be sealed.
Have your furnace inspected and clean your HVAC system
As you close up your home for the cold season, the contaminates that are in your air ducts and furnace recirculate through your home over and over throughout the entire winter. Your HVAC system can collect everything from mold, fungi and bacteria to tiny dust particles and allergens that can cause irritation to everyone in the house. In fact, according to the EPA, indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.
"Having your HVAC system inspected and cleaned can extend the life of your furnace and can even make it run considerably more efficiently, saving the homeowner money on their monthly heating and cooling bills" says Aaron Marshbanks, board member at NADCA - The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance & Restoration Association. "Having your system cleaned can also increase air flow which often times translates into increased comfort for occupants in the home."
Change filters regularly
Once you have a clean HVAC system, it's crucial to change your furnace filters regularly. Filters are designed to remove the dust and debris from the air flowing into your home. When the filter is dirty, the furnace has to work harder to pull air through the clogged filter and your utility bills will be higher. Change your furnace filter once a month to keep your system running at peak performance. Courtesy of ARAcontent