New Homeowner Tips
Owning your first home is an exciting step in your life. It also comes with a whole new set of responsibilities. Here are five small things you can do to prevent some common homeowner pitfalls from occurring while saving yourself time and money.
Check Your Insulation
If there is an unfinished attic in your home you’re going to want to make sure it’s insulated. A rule of thumb is that there should be at least 6 inches of insulation everywhere and more if you live in a cold weather climate. Even if you see insulation up there, make sure it isn’t damaged or inadequate. If one of those two things applies to the insulation situation in your attic, look into addressing the issue and installing more.
Use a Water Heater Blanket for Your Hot Water Heater
Figure out the approximate age of your hot water heater and make the necessary adjustments. Most new water heaters are going to be well-insulated, older models…. not so much. Pay the small price for a water heater blanket. The move will pay off in the long run. You’ll see your heating bills gradually fall because less heat will escape from the water in the heater and out into your utility closet.
Replace the Filter in Your Air Handling Unit
Upon moving in, it is important to change the filter in your air handling unit. It’s very simple to do and something you might as well learn now, because it’ll be a part of your routine for the length of your time as homeowner. Find where the filter is located in your air handling unit. They’re almost always large, squares or rectangles. Once you’ve found the filter, take note of its dimensions. Then make a trip to the hardware store to purchase not only the original replacement but a few extra so you have some filters on hand when it needs changing again. Installing a filter is as simple as sliding it into place. An outdated filter becomes clogged with particles it collects from the air, reducing its filtering ability and lowering the quality of your air. It also obstructs air flow, making the unit work harder and use more energy to perform its duty. The result shows up in your energy bill.
Air Seal Your Home
Weatherizing your home is matter of comfort, environmental awareness and your finances. It means finding cracks or openings where air is leaking into your home from outside and vice versa. Your first step is going to be checking your doors and windows. These are the areas and features of your home most likely to spring a leak. Unwanted air flow can also occur around old chimneys or from electrical outlets that are situated on an exterior wall. Can you see daylight peaking through around the edges of doors and windows or feel air flow on your hand? If the answer is yes, you’re going to want to take the steps necessary to plug the leak.
Window film, which acts like a temporary storm window, is a good place to start for windows. All you need for installation is some tape and a hair dryer. If the edges around the frame of the window are the problem some caulk can do the trick. Doors obviously move, so caulk isn’t a good option for them. Instead you’ll have to use relatively inexpensive and widely available weather-stripping materials.
Install Gutter Guards
Gutters are an essential component of your home and the task they perform is invaluable. Clogged gutters can lead to excess, backed up water, which in turn can lead to significant and costly water damage inside and outside your home. You shouldn’t have to cross your fingers every time some gray clouds are on the horizon, wondering if your gutters are going to come through in the clutch. Cleaning your gutters frequently is time consuming and doesn’t always address the problem. Installing gutter guards is the better option and will save you valuable cleaning time. Gutter guards create an extension of the roof that mirrors its existing pitch, preventing fallen leaves, twigs and other debris from accumulating. Even if you clean your gutters often, they aren’t meant to work in winter, when snow and ice buildup can cause your gutters to tear away from the roof all together. Using gutter guards will significantly reduce this risk too.
Peter Bruzzini is an avid DIYer and a gutter and roof guru who loves to share his expertise with the blogosphere.