(BPT) - As the leaves turn and fall to the ground, it's time to start thinking about 'buttoning up' your home for winter to keep you and your family healthy and comfortable, your belongings safe and high energy costs at bay.
Heating accounts for 34 percent of all annual utility usage, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the most cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home is to seal and insulate the 'envelope' - outer walls, windows, doors and roof. By doing so, ENERGY STAR estimates that a homeowner can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, the equivalent to lowering up to 10 percent of total energy costs for the year.
Here are a few ways to keep you and your family healthy, your belongings safe and help lower your heating bill:
Preventing the draft
Old, drafty windows and doors can account for home energy loss of up to 30 percent, according to the EPA, which means paying more in the winter to heat your home. By replacing non-performing windows and doors, homeowners can drastically reduce heating costs. A typical home that replaces its single-paned, clear glass windows with energy-efficient windows can realize up to $501 in annual savings, according to the EPA.
'Windows are a great source of natural light, and a great way to admire the picturesque snow-covered trees and lawns while avoiding the brisk winter air; however, they can also be the site of the biggest energy efficiency offender,' says David Harrison, chief marketing officer of Champion Windows, one of the nation's leading home improvement companies. 'By installing our Comfort 365 Windows, homeowners can watch their heating bills drop and rid their homes of cold drafts.'
Additionally, old or improperly installed siding can also be the cause of drafts. However, by installing new, energy-efficient vinyl siding and underlayment, homeowners can increase a homes' R-Value, a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it.
'Installing energy-efficient siding can help insulate your home against the cold, reduce the amount of air flow into your house, and make it easier to keep warm air in the winter,' says Harrison.
However, even the best windows, doors and siding can be drafty, if they are poorly installed. So it's important to make sure your home improvement is completed by a quality contractor who has a long history of being in the business so you can be sure they will be around if you have any issues down the road.
Water leakage from snow, ice and rain can cause damage to the exterior and interior of your home. This can result in costly damage to framing, structure and insulation, more importantly it can cause issues - like mold - that can be harmful to the health of your family.
The roof is often the site of leaks in homes; however, by installing a new roof and taking the proper precautions, leaks won't be a problem, especially with Champion's Comfort 365 Roof System, which uses a flexible, self-healing barrier in all leak vulnerable areas and is guaranteed with a limited lifetime warranty.
'Your home will settle and shift over time and extreme weather can be an issue,' says Harrison. 'It is important to have barriers to provide protection against leaks caused by roof setting and extreme weather. Unlike many companies who only use this on the north side of a home or treat it as an upgrade, Champion uses a flexible, self-healing barrier anywhere your home's roof joins and at all attachment points.'
Other ways to improve the seal of your home to prevent moisture damage, drafts and improve energy efficiency include:
* Sealing leaks
* Adding insulation
* Sealing ducts
'Now is the perfect time to make these improvements,' says Harrison. 'Since it's the offseason, homeowners can find great deals and attractive financing to 'button up' your home for winter.'
For more energy saving window, door, siding and roof tips, check out the U.S. Department of Energy's website or Champion Window's site www.ChampionFactoryDirect.com.