Here are 5 things you can do this weekend to get your home ready for winter in Minnesota. Stay organized for next year: Add these as reminders on your calendar for 2017. When the day comes, you will have a back-up plan to not forget!
#1: A smart(er) thermostat
You don't have to spend a lot to get a programable thermostat, and the lower you spend the quicker it pays for itself. In Minnesota, a household of 3 can easily spend 70% of their energy budget on heating & cooling (wow!).
Stop by your local hardware store and pick up a programable thermostat, and set it to turn on/off during the times that make the most sense, and you'll quickly save up to 3% off your heating bill. That can be up to $180 a year!
If you want something fancier, go for a Nest or Honeywell unit that learns your behavior. Check with your energy provider to see if they offer discounts and rebates, too.
#2: Clockwise the ceiling fan
Simple to remember: Clockwise pushes warm air down, back into the room. So if you have a ceiling fan, this is a quick, no-cost (and very easy) trick to keep you toasty.
#3: Furnace filters!
Whether your furnace is brand new or decades old, making sure they have a clean filter is the easiest thing to do to keep them running well. They should be changed twice a year, and buying the filters in bulk helps you ensure it will get done when it needs to be.
#4: Draft check
If you are already walking around the perimeter of your house once a month, good job! If you aren't, start! Start at one corner and move your way around (make sure your FitBit is on, get those steps!) and keep your eyes open for any weather seals that are loose, items that need to be caulked, gaps in the siding, and so on. Take with you some steel wool to pop into the holes that a mouse might crawl through, and take notes for anything you might need to go to the store and get (insulation, and so on).
Then, head back inside and take note of any holes or gaps you saw outside. You can then pick up some weather strip tape, insulation, or caulking you may need. Keep in mind that even the smallest hole can make a big difference to your heating bill!
#5: Flush your water heater
Don't be intimidated by this giant appliance in your basement! They need love, too, and they are mostly ignored until they finally give up on you. Taking time to love your water heater by flushing will get rid of sediment and gunk in the bottom, which ultimately lead to rust and poor performance. Here's a step-by-step video to help you.