Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to keeping your home warm during winter

Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to keeping your home warm during winter

Posted by
Ed Miller on Wed, Oct 16, 2013

You’ve Been Drafted!

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that between 5 and 30 percent of an average home’s energy use is wasted competing with drafts. They’re more than annoying; if a draft flows over your thermostat, it will give a false reading. The thermostat may instruct your HVAC system to run the air conditioner or furnace for longer than is necessary.

Pass a lit candle around doors, windows, and perforations in the walls where cables come in and drainpipes exit (always be careful to remove anything potentially flammable, such as drapes and blinds). When the flame flickers, you have a DIY sealing project to undertake. The best results are often achieved with the simplest remedies; use the appropriate caulk for the adjacent materials, in a handheld gun, and simply plug the leak. Caulks are available from most home improvement warehouses and department stores.

Ductwork Disasters

Aging ductwork can leak like a sieve. There have been studies which suggest that between 10 and 30 percent of treated air is lost through split ducts and separated joints within the system. The impact on your energy spends, of course, is once again a year-round penalty; those ducts are shared by your air conditioner and furnace.

You can visually inspect ductwork where passes through the loft or crawl-space, then restore ailing areas yourself. Don’t use duct tape, however; the name is misleading. Duct tape has a short in-use life, become brittle and loses its adhesion within months; this allows air under pressure to escape very quickly. Use a mastic tape recommended for the project, and re-secure steel ductwork using sheet metal screws before applying the tape. For those parts of the system that you can’t see, professional heating and air Jacksonville FL technicians should be called to pressure-test your installation.

Thermostat Know-How

Another government-sponsored study found that the average household spends somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of its annual fuel budget on heating and cooling. Expect a saving of between 1 and 3 percent of that bill for every degree you turn down your thermostat during the heating season. Turn the temperature down even further when everybody’s out and about; there’s little point in paying for treated air that no one’s going to enjoy.

A programmable thermostat can save even more money, and they’re becoming available to the do-it-yourselfer from the outlets mentioned above, and from some hardware stores. Although sold with comprehensive directions, installation is a slightly more challenging project than others suggested here.


Well-insulated pipes work for you in two ways: They minimize energy loss between the water-heater and the point of use, and they markedly decrease any chance the pipes may freeze (remember that Jacksonville’s seven-degree cold snap, in January 1985, still holds the Lowest Temperature record in the southeastern U.S.).

Pre-slit, molded proprietary pipe foam is typically sold at the warehouse stores, along with many hardware outlets. Trim the standard lengths to size then fasten them in place with tape or zip ties. As with all insulation materials, performance is measured in ‘R-values;’ the higher the numeric value, the better its performance.

Insulation Updates

Insulation remains perhaps the single best way to proof against unwanted heat transfer being that heat encroachment through the cooling season, or heat loss during winter. Even if your home already has insulation in its walls, attic and basement, it’s worth investigating to see if modern innovations and better (higher) R-value materials could boost retention.

There have been times when the federal government has reimbursed homeowners, even renters, for a substantial percentage of their costs when installing or retrofitting highly efficient insulation. Because these incentives are sometimes state-specific, be sure you consult with a local HVAC expert to see what offers are current.

In Conclusion

Snyder Heating & Air Conditioning, a family-owned and operated business, has been a fixture on the heating and air Jacksonville FL scene for close to 40 years, covering Southside, Westside, the beaches and Orange Park. Contact us to schedule a visit from one of our fully licensed and insured technicians; with everything from friendly advice to a comprehensive furnace tune-up, we’ll help you keep your home warm this winter.

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