Winterize Your Home

Are you looking for inexpensive ways to save money on energy bills this coming winter? Fall is a great time to tackle these home projects and each of them is affordable. Combined, they will give you a good return on your investment in terms of lower utility bills.

Here are 7 ways to winterize your home on a budget. We’ll give each one a pricing rank: $ = low price, $$ = moderate price, $$$ = slightly higher cost.

1. Add weatherstripping to your doors and windows. Keeping treated air from escaping and drafts from blowing in can make a 5% to 10% difference in your energy use. This is a DIY project with a good payoff. $

2. Seal exposed ductwork in attics and basements. Check for gaps in seems and joints, holes, or other places where treated air can escape. Use metal duct tape rather than cheap vinyl duct tape that won’t hold as well or be efficient. Experts say that as much as 20% of treated air can escape through leaky ducts, so this is a great way to save money! $

3. Put an insulation blanket on your water heater. If you have a tank-style water heater, you are losing money through stand-by heat loss. The tank warms up 30 or 40 gallons of water and then it starts to cool off, wasting money. An insulating blanket will slow down the heat loss substantially. $$

4. Program your thermostat so that the system runs less when you aren’t there. Let the temperature fall 10 degrees or so when the house is empty, and you can program it to warm back up before you get home. If you have a programmable thermostat already, this is a freebie. If you need a programmable thermostat, they are fairly inexpensive. $-$$

5. Run full loads of laundry instead of several small loads. Combining loads is easier these days because most of the dyes used are color-safe. They won’t bleed. You’ll reduce your water use and your overall electrical use.

6. Add insulation to the attic. In winter, heated air escapes through the ceiling into the attic and out of the house. In summer, the attic gets hot and that air pushes down into the house, causing the air conditioner to work harder. A layer of insulation in the attic will help year-round. $$$

7. Have your furnace or heat pump cleaned and tuned for winter. A dirty furnace or heat pump coil can waste 20% or more of the energy it uses. That’s a lot of money over the course of a heating season. Having your entire HVAC system maintained before winter is a cost that might pay you back very quickly. $$-$$$

These are very good ways to reduce energy use on a limited budget. They are easy to accomplish and you will notice immediate results — lower energy bills every month going forward!

Hansen, K. (2011, November 19). How to Winterize Your Home on a Budget. Retrieved December 3, 2011

Slate Roofing Inspection

Slate is a beautiful and durable roofing but it may require occasional repairs and service.

You may not need to completely replace your slate roof if you’ve sprung a leak or have localized problems, but it is important to to do a thorough inspection to determine the nature and the extent of the damage, if any.

While it’s recommended that you leave major slate repairs to your qualified Hampton Roads roofing contractor, you can always take a look for yourself.

5 Tips for Proper Slate Roofing Inspection

Here are five key tips:

  1. Safety First. Never walk on a slate roof to perform your inspection. Unlike asphalt shingles—which you should avoid walking on too if you can—slate roofs are smooth and don’t have the rough surface for traction. Instead, perform your inspection from a secure ladder, or use binoculars from the ground. Safety should always be on your mind.
  2. Weathering. If you notice that the slate appears spongy, abnormally thin, has scales along the edges, is delaminated or has whitish rings spreading across its surface, this may mean that the weather has weakened the slate and it needs replacement.
  3. Check for fastener failures. If the roof has cracks, holes or has missing pieces of slate, the fasteners may be the problem. In many cases, you need only replace the missing slate or damaged areas while leaving the rest of the roof as it is.
  4. Know your flashing failures. If you’re experiencing attic leaks, or if the chimney flashings appear black with ar, you may have what are known as “flashing failures.” Other signs of a flashing failure are corroded or leaky liners.
  5. Survey Says. A good rule of thumb: if more than one-quarter of the roof has fastener failures or more than one-quarter of the slate shingles are worn or damaged, replacing your slate roof in its entirety is something you should heavily consider.

If your slate roof requires repair or replacement, Jim Hicks Home Improvement is Hampton Roads most trusted roofer. Offering slate roofing installation and repair services, we provide affordable inspection, repair and replacement services that help you protect your investment while maintaining beautiful results. Call today to schedule your consultation!