Wintertime is often associated with rising heating costs, as homeowners do their best to keep out the cold. However, there are a number of tricks that may help you beat both the winter chill and leave your pocketbook intact. San Diego residents can rely on various methods to keep themselves and their families comfortable, with many of them requiring just some simple home maintenance and materials.

Luckily for residents, winter in San Diego is anything but brutal. Our “cold” season usually runs from December through February, and while it’s relatively mild, there are some steps to be taken in order to winterize your home and keep energy bills low. Below are our top 7 DIY tips to winterize your San Diego home to reduce energy usage and keep your family safe. Once you have taken these steps, you will be amazed at the difference they can make in driving energy costs down.

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1. Fortify Your Doors and Windows

Weather stripping is yet another means of keeping your San Diego home properly secured against chilly weather. Making sure windows and doors are properly sealed will help your home stay warm no matter what conditions you are up against. The most commonly used seals are the wrapped foam type. You should use a box cutter when installing the seal to guarantee a snug fit. When cutting, always make sure to leave more than you think you need, in order to avoid a seal that is too short and therefore useless. Outside the home, you may caulk to seal up smaller gaps or expanding foam for larger ones. Replace thresholds on exterior doors with ones that have vinyl inserts for further protection.

Installing energy efficient windows and doors provide homeowners with one of the most cost-effective options for reducing heating costs. Products should have high energy efficient ratings in order to provide ultimate protection. Tubular lights can reduce cold in winter, as well as heat in summer. Make sure that your windows, skylights, and doors are installed properly with no openings or cracks that will let cold air seep in. Cost-effective kits are available with strong sheeting and tape that make the installation processes easy for homeowners.

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2. Close Your Fireplace

Here is an easy but useful trick that is often forgotten! Although fireplaces aren’t used abundantly in San Diego, ensure to close the flue in your fireplace to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from circulating back into the house. Enclosed fireplaces with glass doors or glass walls are meant to keep the warm air in the house and the cold air out.

3. Change Your Furnace, Pipes, Vents, and Filters

If your furnace filters are dirty and not well maintained, it causes your furnace to work harder and ultimately, costs you more money. This is an easy thing to forget, but in the winter season, it’s especially important to change your filter in order to prevent restricted airflow and unnecessary energy usage. For an easy and eco-friendly change, consider switching to a permanent filter. We recommend a genuine HEPA filter, it will cost more upfront, but the permanent filter catches 80-90% more bacteria, mold, and airborne particles than replaceable filters. When purchasing a HEPA filter, ensure you buy name brand for better results.

You will also want to close any gaps in pipes, vents and fans in your home, which will guarantee that heat transfers more effectively across different rooms. If you have a pool, keep the filters running for only a few hours per day during the season.

4. Tune Up Your Heating System

As with any appliance, your heating system needs regular tune-ups to function properly. Keeping your furnace clean and well maintained creates long-lasting function and can help save on heating costs. Check the manufacturer or dealer of your heating system for free annual check-ups by licensed professionals. Be sure to plan ahead as many of these HVAC crews get backed up during the winter season.

Without correct tune-ups, you may be in for a hefty fee if the entire furnace needs to be replaced. Do the work ahead of time to prevent future problems. If you’re stuck in the situation of replacing your entire unit, consider an energy efficient furnace. Making this change can save a lot of money in the long run.

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5. Pay Attention to Your Thermostat

When you leave for work or go to sleep at night, it’s a good idea to lower your thermostat. This small change can have a major impact on cutting down on your energy bill! With a programmable thermostat, you can decide when it is crucial to heat your home during the day or night, as well as reduce costs when no one is home. In order to maximize the heat from your thermostat, you may choose to rearrange furniture so that it allows warm air to flow better throughout the main living area. Closing doors of rooms that do not need to be heated, as well as wearing proper layers of clothing, will also reduce thermostat use in the home. Dropping your thermostat even one degree can save you between 1-3% on your next heating bill.

6. Check Your Insulation

Insulation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering winterization in your San Diego home, but it is an important factor when it comes to saving money and energy in your home. Factor in the age of your home, as insulation deteriorates over time, in addition to the type of insulation used in your home.

Extra insulation can be applied to many areas of a home, such as outside walls, attics, basement walls and more. The material one chooses is up to them, though the most popular among builders are cellulose and fiberglass. Professionals can be hired for this project, which will, of course, add to the expense but eventually save money, time, and hassles in the long run. Home insulation is one of the smartest ways to both keep home temperatures up and bills down.

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7. Turn Down Your Water Heater

Most water heaters are automatically set to an unnecessarily high temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit that can cost you money overtime. To reduce your heating costs and energy use, lower your water heater to 120 degree Fahrenheit as recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This small change will save you from any scalding burns and can lower your water heating costs by 6-10%!

Even though our winters here in San Diego tend to be pleasantly mild, taking steps to properly winterize your home (particularly if you live in an older home) will surely pay off when it comes to saving energy and money during the winter.

BONUS TIP: Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse

Ceiling fans can do more than cool a room on a hot, sunny day. When switched to a clockwise direction, the reserve air flow creates warmth. Warm air near the ceiling is circulated back down into the room creating warm temperatures and even dropping the heating costs!

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