Just like setting the clock back
November 10, 2017 by Nicole Bogdanovic
With winter setting in, it’s the time of year to set the clock back, change to winter tires and check your home for obvious gaps and cracks.
We pay for heat -- more than 50 per cent of the energy we use in our homes in BC is just for keeping our homes warm and comfortable. It’s common to see higher natural gas and electricity bills during the winter months (from December to February).
Temperatures are expected to take a dip the next few weeks across the province so it’s important to be prepared well before you get an unexpected bill -- my pre-winter shopping list includes draftproofing material, window film and furnace filters.
Check for drafts and obvious signs of heat loss
Gaps and cracks, especially in older homes, can add up to a fair-sized hole – like having a window open on a cold winter day. Take a look around doors, windows and other openings – even dryer vents. If you can see gaps and cracks, or worn or missing draftproofing materials, you’re losing heat.
To fix this, pick up draftproofing material like gasket material and door sweeps from your local hardware store. Income-qualified customers can order a kit full of these items for free from FortisBC.
Check for frost and water collecting around windows
If water droplets or frost are collecting around windows, that’s another sure sign you’re losing valuable heat. To help, we recommend installing window film. This is quite affordable and easy to install -- I was able to install it around an entire patio door, original to my late 70s home, and greatly reduced the drafts around our dinner table.
Get your heating system ready
Before you switch on the heat, make sure your furnace is ready to go by getting it serviced and replacing your furnace filter. Open the vents and clear them of obstacles in the rooms you use and keep them closed in the rooms you don’t.
If your furnace is at its end, call for a replacement well before the heating season to avoid an emergency when contractors are at their busiest time. We recommend choosing the most energy efficient appliance you can afford and applying for rebates. To make sure you benefit from the energy savings, get the install done by a pro.
Set your programmable thermostat
If you don’t already have one, now is a good time to get one and set it to your winter routine. We recommend 17 °C when you’re out and asleep and 20 °C when you’re home and awake.
Older homes typically have significantly less insulation than newer ones. If you have icicles hanging from your soffits, or other signs of snow melt from your roof, you have heat loss. We’re talking about areas beyond the attic – basement, crawl spaces and walls. In fact, you lose as much heat from your crawl space or basement as your attic so it needs as much attention. FortisBC also offers support for insulation upgrades.
The best way to check your home for drafts and find out your best opportunities for energy savings, is to book an energy evaluation with a certified energy advisor. You can find one for your area listed on the Natural Resources Canada website.