The holiday season is officially here which means Christmas music, ice skating in Millennium Park, and Michael’s Swiss Fondue!
Unfortunately, it also means ice cold temperatures. The good news is, weather predictions say that Chicago is in for a mild winter! Don’t put your sandals and sunscreen on just yet – the bad news is, a mild winter in Chicago still means Polar Vortex for the majority of the country.
While most people simply crank up the heat during the winter, they may fail to realize they are circulating allergens in their home while simultaneously throwing away money through poor insulation. There are a number of cost-effective ways that you can winterize your home. Many of the techniques take only a couple of minutes, while others may involve contacting a local professional. Here are 5 suggestions to properly prepare for another Chicago winter:
- Have your HVAC ducts cleaned. If you notice winter allergies starting up again, it may not be a seasonal reaction. For the past few months, the weather has been beautiful and your windows have likely been open. In doing so, allergens may have gotten into your ducts. Since you will likely be cooped up inside all winter, make sure your circulated air is clean. You don’t want to have residual dust or pollen blowing into your air all winter.
- Install a seal under your exterior doors. Chicago is a windy place during the winter, and even a small seam underneath your doors can let in a large amount of cold air. If any of your doors are remotely close to a thermostat, this could be adding to your electric bill by making your heater work overtime. Make sure your exterior doors are airtight. Any small crevices will allow cold air in and warm air out.
- Conduct a blower door test. Have an HVAC technician come in to see if any of your ducts need to be sealed. Ducts that are not properly sealed could be costing you efficiency and cash every day. While it will cost to have a technician conduct this test, it may end up saving you money in the long run if he or she finds improperly sealed ducts.
- Check your windows. Windows and doors are very similar to one another – if not properly maintained, they can be weak spots that cost you money. Make sure your windows are closing properly, that the flashing on the exterior is installed tightly, and that the windows are sealed. You cannot control how cold the glass gets – you can control the frame around it.
- Insulate. According to HomeRepair.com, walls account for 12-14% of heat loss during the winter. Particularly if you’re in an older house or condo, you most likely have very little insulation. Not only does insulation provide warmth, it also acts as a sound barrier and improves the overall efficiency of your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems. If you already have drywall or plaster up, speak with a spray foam contractor to discuss your options.
Let’s all hope for a generally mild winter (even though “Polar Vortex” has a cool name). However as any Chicagoan knows, even mild winters will be filled with snow, wind, and single digit temperatures until April. By contacting home repair professionals and taking a few minutes to test out any weak spots in your home, you should be able to control what you’re spending on your heating bill. You know what they say, if you don’t like the weather in Chicago – just wait a few minutes.