Preparing home crucial to a cozy winter

Posted: Tuesday, November 01, 2005


  Homeowners should keep heavy loads of snow and ice from accumulating on their roof. Clarion file photo

Homeowners should keep heavy loads of snow and ice from accumulating on their roof.

Clarion file photo

Curtis Thayer said he lowered his home heating bill 20 percent last year. But natural gas prices had increased 17 percent from the year before. How does that work?

Thayer, a spokesman for Enstar Natural Gas Co., said anybody can do it with minimal effort.

Enstar delivers natural gas to Southcentral Alaska residents connected to the natural gas system.

When it comes to saving money, the key word is "winterize."

"When you winterize your home, it's more a thing of doing what you put off," Thayer said.

In Thayer's case, he said he replaced some windows and put some new insulation in his attic.

Here are some other ways Enstar says snowbirds can prepare their home for winter:

Have a qualified service technician perform an inspection on heating equipment and make necessary repairs.

Weatherise the areas in your home where warm air can escape, including seams, cracks and openings around windows, doors and baseboards. Also, fill small openings around television cables, dryer vents and plumbing pipes.

Set water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Make repairs to toilets that are running or the water in the bowl is hot.

Make sure thermostats are placed on an inside wall or not placed where cool air can affect them.

Install a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat will automatically change the settings at certain times of the day.

Replace furnace filters every month. Make sure your heating and water heating equipment is properly ventilated.

Make sure your home is well insulated to prevent heat from escaping. However, do not block the outside combustion air openings near heating equipment. These are needed for the safe operation of your heating equipment.

Install shades, awnings or sun screens on windows facing south and west to block summer light. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms. Close them to keep heat in during the night. Do not block air outlets and inlets with curtains or furniture. The furnace needs unobstructed air flow to balance the system.

Make sure fireplaces are properly vented and keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. To reduce heat loss up the chimney, install glass doors on the fireplace.

Make sure your home has a working fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector on every level.

Preparing a home for winter is not just about natural gas savings.

Homer Electric Association spokesman Joe Gallagher said people need to be prepared for power outages, which often increase in the winter.

When this happens, Gallagher said pipes can freeze, heating apparatus will not work and water pumps stop working.

Here are some HEA tips for a winter power outage:

Check a circuit breaker near a meter. If it has tripped, turn it off and then on again.

Call HEA's 24-hour service at (888) 8OUTAGE and report an outage. Make sure to submit a seven-digit telephone number of the location where the outage occurred. Also, make sure to report bright flashes, explosive noises or trees on the line.

Report if there is anyone at the location who is on a life support system.

Have a cell phone or a standard phone in the home. A cordless phone will not work during an outage.

HEA also suggests that homes have a disaster supply kit to be prepared for a prolonged outage or a natural disaster. Citing the American Red Cross, HEA said there are six basics people should stock for their home: water, food, first-aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and special items.

For more information, call HEA at (800) 478-8551.

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