Bonfe Insider: November 2020

How to keep your home warm and cozy

Winter in Minnesota is no joke. Since you can’t anticipate what this season will throw at you, the best thing you can do is be prepared. We’ve got you covered. Here are four important ways to keep your home warm and comfortable this winter.

  • Schedule a heating tune-up 

When it comes to furnaces and boilers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Heating systems need to be tuned up and checked regularly to maintain optimal function. A tune-up can prevent costly breakdowns, extend the life of your equipment, keep it running more efficiently, and also help identify safety issues.

  • Check for drafts

If it seems unusually difficult or expensive to keep your home at a reasonable temperature in the winter, you may have air leaks. Here are some quick tests and telltale signs that can help you determine if you have problematic air leaks.   

Windows:

Frost buildup around windows or doors is a clear sign of drafts. 

If there’s an air leak by a window you can use caulking to seal small window leaks. If this doesn’t stop the air drafts you might want to consider replacing your windows with high performance glass and changing the frames from aluminum to wood or vinyl. These have natural insulating qualities that can help reduce condensation.

Exterior doors:

  1. Have someone shine a flashlight from the outside of the door while you’re standing inside. You should not be able to see any light come through the perimeter of the door area.
  2. Close a dollar bill in the door. You should not be able to pull out the dollar when it’s closed. If you can easily pull the dollar through, the seal isn’t strong enough. 

If your doors are letting drafts of air into your home first check to make sure the hardware is working properly. Tighten or replace loose screws or doorknobs. After that, you can also insulate your entry door with spray foam, caulk or weatherstripping. 

Attics and crawl spaces:

If you have an attic or crawl space, these areas may significantly contribute to the flow of cold air inside your home. It may be a good investment to add insulation, which can pay for itself in reduced energy bills over time and also help immediately improve the temperature comfort in the living areas of your home. 

Power outlets:

Cold air can leak in through power outlets, light switches, cable inserts, and other holes and fixtures on external walls. Simply holding your hand over a wall outlet will enable you to feel if cold air is coming in.  

If your outlets or light switches are leaking air, you can insulate them with foam gaskets which are designed to fit around your outlets. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you can use caulk or putty to seal any cracks or gaps by the wall plate. One more tip: you can also insert child-safety plugs into your outlets when not in use to prevent the cold air from seeping into your home.

  • Close off rooms you aren’t using – and don’t forget about the vents

With so many of us spending more time at home with just our immediate family, we may have less need for extra space like guest rooms and parts of the home usually reserved for entertaining. Consider closing off these spare rooms; it’s worth it even if it’s only for a short time. Close the air vents in the room and close the doors.  Make sure to remove anything that could be damaged by low temperatures. You could consider leaving a smart thermostat in the room so you can make sure the temperature doesn’t drop so low that damage could occur.

  • Water heaters need attention, too

Most of us take for granted that we’ll have hot water ready when we need it (or at least after patiently waiting for the water to warm up if we have a conventional storage tank heater). But no one wants to wake up on a January morning to a broken water heater. Brrr.

Like furnaces, water heaters require regular inspections and tune-ups to optimize performance and longevity. As part of the Bonfe Peace Of Mind plan, your water heater gets checked for safety and operation at the same time your heating and cooling equipment is checked. 

One surprising way to help extend the life of your water heater: use a water softener. A water softener removes minerals that can build up in your water heater, reducing its efficiency and increasing the likelihood of a breakdown. Plus, a water softener makes your home’s water easier on your hair and skin and reduces hard water stains on counter tops and glass shower doors. 

We’re wishing you warmth and safety this winter. Get your heating system tune-up scheduled today.  And give us a call if you have any questions, concerns or problems outside of your regular tune-up schedule. Better safe than sorry!

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