If you want to save energy and money during the colder months, there are many steps you can take around the house to make a difference. We’re covering the most effective Georgia power-and-energy tips for the winter so you have a guide to follow!
Some Basics About Georgia Winters
If you’re new to the state and want to know, “When does winter start in Georgia?” then you may be surprised just how quickly it creeps up. The sweltering summer weather gives way to what are usually mild and varied fall days, which quickly start becoming chillier as Halloween approaches.
If you’re wondering, “Okay, but what month does it start getting cold in Georgia?” then mark your calendars for early to mid-November. This is when the pleasant fall weather starts turning significantly colder and true winter temperatures with lows below 40 degrees are more likely. It’s a good idea to have any HVAC maintenance and home heating prep done before this time.
1. Change Your HVAC Filter
Most residential HVAC systems have replaceable filters located near the fan. These filters are designed to be switched out every several months, or around the start of each new cold/warm season. Replacing this filter is one of the most important steps to prepare for winter, because an old, clogged will significantly reduce airflow and force your heating system to work harder with fewer results – which equals a lot of wasted energy, plus wear and tear on the system.
The average homeowner should be able to find this cardboard filter, note its size (the dimensions are clearly printed on the filter itself), and find a replacement version at a local home improvement store. Always make sure that the arrows on the filter are pointed in the direction that air is flowing through your ductwork. If you can’t find the filter or would prefer not to bother with the whole process, you can arrange for professional maintenance to take care of it. If you have a heat pump, this is also a good time to check your refrigerant levels to make sure everything is ready for winter!
A small number of homes may have a permanent filter instead of the replacement version: In these cases, you should be able to remove the filter and wash it in preparation for Georgia winter weather.
2. Use Natural Sources of Heat
Pick a weekend and note which windows the sun shines through the most as the seasons change – typically from the south. Keep blinds and drapes open on those windows so as much sunlight can pass into the house as possible. This natural source of thermal energy really can make a difference throughout the day. Make sure you close everything up when the sun sets to preserve the heat inside your home!
3. Check Insulation Around the Home
Georgia’s cold weather stops at the door if you have proper insulation on all your doors and windows. Check the edges of doors and windows and see how your weatherstripping – the layers of rubber and felt – are doing. If the weatherstripping is missing or has been worn out, it’s time to visit the store and buy replacement stripping so cold air can’t flow in through those weak points.
Georgia’s building codes also recommend full insulation for crawlspaces, attics, ductwork and basements. Joints and seams of your ductwork should also be duct-taped (that’s where the name comes from) to prevent air leakage. Any HVAC or plumbing piping carrying hot fluids should be insulated with around ½-inch of material.
We know these are larger projects and it’s a lot to ask homeowners to memorize all required R-values for insulation around the home. Professional home inspections and maintenance can help manage bigger insulation projects, and Gainesville Mechanical will be happy to help you manage your ductwork and heating when necessary.
4. Maintain Your Fireplace
Before you start using your fireplace, make sure that it’s completely cleaned of creosote every year. Also, when not in use, it’s important to make sure that all embers are fully extinguished and that the damper is fully closed. An open damper gives warm air in the house a direct outlet to the outside and can cost a lot of money. Dampers can also get jammed or warped over time, so it’s a good idea to double-check if it’s really fully closed.
5. Close Off Rarely Used Rooms
Are there rooms in your house that don’t see much use over the winter? Close off the vents in these rooms, and keep the door shut. This will help the HVAC system circulate warm air in the places that need it, instead of the places where people won’t be spending time. This way your house heats up faster and more efficiently, saving money.
6. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
It’s common advice to upgrade to a smart thermostat these days, but we know you may have questions about how much difference that can make. Smart thermostats excel at sensing when humans are moving around the house and automatically setting temperature schedules based on this activity, so heating is powered down when people aren’t around. They are also a great way to set temperature schedules, which can be done via an app. You enable vacation modes to save more money and get tips for saving electricity around the house. Because of these benefits, the average smart thermostat tends to pay for itself after a couple of years.
One of the best power saving-tips for winter, even without a smart thermostat, is to set your temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit at the maximum for turning on heating – and even lower if you can. Every couple of degrees represents significant savings!
7. Switch Your Ceiling Fans
Finally, flip the switches on your ceiling fans so they rotate in a clockwise direction. This circulates warm air down onto the people in the room and complements all the other winter heating steps you take.
Lastly, if the Georgia cold weather hits and your heating system isn’t working like it’s supposed to, contact the professionals to troubleshoot issues!