When the weather turns cold in our Atlanta region, it’s a nasty damp cold that until experienced, you won’t believe how miserable you can get… in a hurry!
The thermometer may only say 29 degrees… but we’re suffering. I think the RH (relative humidity) is part of the reason, and the other part is because we otherwise live in a pretty mild climate.
When flying in an airplane, have you noticed how GREEN Georgia is? Several years ago, I read that our state has more trees than most, and Atlanta is in a class all of it’s own when it comes to the amount of trees in our city!
From an airplane, our state and cities appear carpeted with trees! Take a look at your neighborhood from a Google Map satellite view… It’s GREEN with trees, right? (If the picture was taken during the summer). It’s a well known fact that Georgia is a top producer of wood products; we’ve got lots of trees!
During the winter, even though the leaves have dropped, much of this tree canopy cuts down on the sun’s rays hitting our homes. Factor in the longer nights and the sun sitting lower in the sky, and our homes aren’t enjoying much of the sun’s free radiant energy.
So, you have to heat your home. We don’t need much heat, not like many Americans, who have nasty winters.
Here are 14 tips to consider for being warm in your home, or knock the chill off, that won’t hurt your budget!
1. Open your blinds or curtains. On those sunny days, allow the sun’s direct rays to shine through your glass. Capture that radiant energy, it’s free!
2. Close your blinds or curtains. As soon as sundown hits, close the blinds or curtains, so you don’t lose your heat as quickly. Remember: HOT always moves to COLD.
3. It’s usually warmer in the center of your home, rather than in rooms that share outside walls.
4. If you use your fireplace, keep in mind that it’s drawing your interior warm air out the chimney. That lost air is being replaced with outside (cold) air that you must heat. Using an airtight insert is the most efficient way to use your fireplace!
5. Not using your fireplace? Close the damper! Don’t have a damper? Seal the opening with cardboard, or at the least, shove newspaper into the chimney. Put a piece of bright yarn, or string with a trinket tied on the end, dangling out of the chimney. That way you (or a friend) won’t forget the chimney is sealed, before lighting a fire! You can purchase an inflatable chimney “balloon” that seals odd shaped chimneys, or use a beachball.
6. I’ve never tried the painter’s plastic interior window kits. The idea is to staple or tape the thin plastic sheet over the window, attaching it to the window frame. Using your hairdryer, heat the plastic until it’s taunt. During my years in the low-income weatherization program, I’ve been in many houses that had plastic over the windows. I am told that It works best at sealing out cold drafts.
7. Consolidate your living areas. If you’ve got a room or two that is downright chilly, move out! Move your activity to an interior living space that is more comfortable.
8. Some like sleeping in cool beds, others don’t. If you dread going to bed and sliding under those cold sheets, use an electric blanket to preheat the bed. Don’t want to sleep under an electric blanket? Turn it off after your sheets (and pillow?) are preheated!
9. If you decide to use electric heaters to warm-up those chilly areas, keep this in mind:
- Periodically feel of the cord and plug. Is it hot to the touch? If yes, lower the settings on your heater, until the cord & plug aren’t so hot.
- Those electric heaters add to your electric bill, so shut them off (or turn them down a bit) if you aren’t in the room.
- Place them a few feet away from anything that can catch on fire.
10. Do you have a door with a gap underneath it, that allows cold air to trespass into your home? Place a rolled or folded towel at the base of the door, to plug that gap!
11. It’s obvious, and we all know this. But there are many, many times I have been called to a home to troubleshoot hot or cold zones, only to find that the vents are either closed or blocked with curtains and furniture. Go check yours.
12. Here’s one that is equally obvious to those of us who are trained. But not at all obvious to the masses… Manual Dampers on your duct system. There could be dampers inside your SUPPLY ducts, that are closed or partially closed, blocking the airflow to the vents served by that duct. I see these manual dampers placed in lot’s of homes, and when I point them out to the client, more often than not, it’s a surprise. Manual dampers are usually installed in ducts close to the furnace. Look for small handles, that you turn to manipulate the dampers. To “open” the damper & improve airflow, position the handle so it is parallel with the duct.
13. Is your furnace filter dirty? Don’t laugh! A dirty filter can really (negatively) impact airflow through your vents. A couple years back a young single school teacher bought a 1920’s downtown Atlanta house. She couldn’t keep it warm, so she called us to find out why. There were several issues with her place. We air-sealed the attics before adding cellulose insulation. We had to cut access holes to get above three rooms and the kitchen.
Using my Flowhood, I found pitiful airflow through her duct system. We climbed into her crawlspace to reach the furnace and removed the filter. It was not too bad. I cut a hole in the Return plenum, where I intended to add 2 dedicated Return ducts. It’s what I saw that shocked me! It was a WALL of HAIR. Years earlier, someone had installed a filter inside her plenum, taping it in place. Literally, I kid you not, the hair and dust was 2” thick on that filter. Here’s the bad news… Before calling us, she had paid for 3 service calls from HVAC companies, trying to get answers on why her furnace didn’t heat the house. One by one, each tech said her furnace was shot. They wanted to sell her new, expensive equipment. By the end of my day, I had removed the “Wall of Hair filter”, added two more Return vents, and she was enjoying a dramatically more comfortable home with the same furnace.
14. You already know that cold air is heavier than warm air. Use area rugs to help those wood, tile or otherwise bare floors feel warmer. Every winter, I can recall as a child, Mom putting the rugs down in the bathroom & kitchen, to help with those cold tile floors!
These 14 Tips for a Warmer Home are simple, easy to perform, and don’t cost much money to implement. Scores of ideas haven’t been mentioned, just for brevity sake. I bet you can think of a few that I should’ve added!
There are plenty of people who will sell you costly equipment and services that you may not need. If you have questions, or concerns from anyone’s opinion or proposal, contact us. You don’t have to suffer. Call, text, or email my office. At Bird Family Insulation, we’re here to help!