Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Winterize Your Home: Tips from Myles of Style Co-star

Here are "simple, environmentally safe" ideas for winterizing your home from Myles of Style co-star Anthony Gilardi.

1. Windows:
"The most common place for homes to lose heat in the winter. Make sure you fill all gaps around your windows to prevent cold air drafts and warm air escaping. Glass is an excellent conductor by which hot and cold air move quickly in and out of homes, meaning your heating and cooling units have to work much harder to keep you comfortable. To help keep that air where you want it, consider using energy efficient blinds on your windows.

2. Icy slick driveways and exterior walkways:
If you live in an area where this can be a problem, you know that de-icers are a common way to eliminate slickness. But too often we don't use de-icers properly. Improper or over use of de-icers is detrimental to plant life and the environment. So, covering key areas with plastic before a storm, and removing it before it has a chance to freeze is a more environmentally sensitive option.

3. Water pipes: Prepare your plumbing for freezing weather
Outside plumbing
· Caulk around pipes where they enter the house.
· Close off foundation vents. Cut wood or Styrofoam blocks to fit vent openings, and then slide them into the vents. Open the vents in the spring to prevent dry rot.
· Protect outside pipes and faucets.
· Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs. Do this if you don't have a separate valve to turn off outside faucets. Use newspaper or rags covered with plastic, fiberglass or molded foam insulating covers to wrap the faucet.
· Drain in-ground sprinkler systems.

Inside plumbing
· Insulate pipes in unheated areas such as the crawl space, attic, garage or basement. Cover all valves, pipe-fittings, etc. with insulating tape or fiberglass.
· Shut off and drain your water system if you are leaving home for several days. Leaving your furnace on a low setting while you're gone helps, but may not prevent freezing.
· Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. Leaving the cupboard doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows pipes behind the cupboards to get more heat.
· Let the water run if the temperature dips below freezing. Faucets farthest from the street should be the ones left running.

4. Insulation:
Check your attic, walls and basement for adequate insulation. Feel around electrical outlets and switch-plates for cold air. Have a professional add insulation if necessary. Use caulking or weather stripping to take care of any problem areas. Be sure to compare natural fiber insulation and fiberglass insulation.

5. Home ventilation:

Indoor pollutants are fairly common in our homes. Potential contributors include second-hand tobacco smoke, pets, fireplaces, stoves/ovens, furnishing/finishes, and moisture/leaks. Good indicators that you may have indoor air quality (IAQ) problems include musty or chemical odors, visible leaks or water damage.
Ways to improve Indoor Air Quality
· Turn on hood fans when cooking. Cooking, especially on a gas stove, releases chemicals that can contaminate the air, such as carbon monoxide.
· Turn on the exhaust fan when showering to limit moisture build up
· Clean regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and pet-hair accumulation.
· Use cleaning products that do not emit chemicals into the air. Many products used to wash floors, countertops, and windows can give off gas toxic or irritating chemicals. Avoid dangerous chemicals by selecting products that are certified for low levels of chemical emissions.
· Open windows to allow fresh air into your space.
· Maintain your HVAC filters as instructed. Check, clean, or replace furnace and air filters regularly, at least every two months. Consider installing a "high efficiency particulate" (HEPA) filter. "

source: Anthony Gilardi.


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