Spring has sprung, Waterloo Region! The sun is shining, the snow is melting and it’s time to not only transition your wardrobe, but your home as well! With warmer weather on the horizon, it is important to follow Afterglow’s steps for a quick check-up to make sure you can enjoy the sun without any looming potential-headaches.
Go for a walk (around your house)
During the winter months, the exterior of your home will be exposed to more potential damage than the inside so this is where your check-up should start! Walk around your home and examine caulking around the outside of windows and doors. You should also open those windows and doors and examine the weather stripping. Replace old or cracking caulk and worn weather stripping where necessary to prevent drafts and increased HVAC bills.
Clear the gutters
While you’re walking around your home, you should also take a second lap to check your gutters! Loose or leaky gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can result in water seeping into your basement or crawl space. Finally, make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
Double check the AC unit
Nothing is worse than when the first heat wave hits and you realize your AC unit has been damaged during the winter. Before the heat is here to stay, contact your local qualified heating and cooling contractor to clean and service your outside unit of the air conditioning system. When the AC unit has clean coils it will operate more efficiently.
Out with the old, in with the new!
With so much more sunlight filling your home, it’s easier to see just how much dust has settled throughout the winter. One thing that may not visibly need cleaning and is easily overlooked is the indoor air quality. Springtime means the return of airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores, which can cause a lot of unpleasant allergy-related symptoms. Open up your windows to let the stale air out and the fresh air in! Afterglow can also provide maintenance on your air ventilation systems to ensure you and your family is breathing in only the freshest air.
Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.
With March break right around the corner, it’s easy to get excited about spending quality time relaxing with your family — and forget about protecting your home. Afterglow has five tips for prepping your home before you pack up and go so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation worry-free.
Unplug before you unwind
The majority of your appliances don’t need to run while you’re out of town. Microwaves, lamps, floor fans, internet modems, gaming consoles, and computers can all take a power-nap in your absence. But just turning them off isn’t enough — unplug to cut off power drain to save money on your electric bill.
Attending to your devices isn’t just about protecting your finances. If a power surge occurs while you’re away, it could fry your appliances and electronics or even cause a malfunction. Sometimes a surge will cause a garage door to open on its own, which can make your empty house an easy target for curious animals or thieves.
Turn off your water supply
You may also want to consider turning off the water supply. Once the water supply has been turned off, pipes should be drained of any remaining water by turning on all of your faucets until they run dry. Make sure to also flush all toilets to clear water from the tanks and bowls. For peace of mind, you can also put nontoxic plumbing antifreeze in the tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing and cracking the porcelain or piping.
If your home uses a boiler system for heating, you’ll want to first consult a professional to ensure it’s safe to cut off the water. If your home has a fire sprinkler system, keep the water supply on.
Adjust the thermostat, stat!
When you leave your home during the winter months, it isn’t efficient to keep it toasty warm inside. Home advisor recommends turning the thermostat down to about 14 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) when you are away. Lowering the temperature will not only cut back on unnecessary energy costs but also maintain a comfortable environment for your plants, pets, electronics, and plumbing systems.
Call in a favour
Give a trusted friend, neighbor or relative access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems and be available in case for emergencies. You should also leave them with your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.
If you want to take extra precautions, notify the police department that your home will be vacant, and provide emergency numbers.
Keeping up with regular maintenance in your home can help with a smooth transition for a week away. Periodically do an interior walkthrough of your home to check any weather stripping for leaks and drafts near windows and doorways. It’s also very important to ensure there are fire and smoke detectors on every floor and all have fresh batteries.
Last but certainly not least, double check that all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors!
Whether you are spending your time skiing down mountains or flying south to escape the cold, Afterglow can make sure your home’s HVAC is safe, secure and ready for your return.
A survey conducted by Environics Research found that 78% of Canadians are looking for ways to boost energy efficiency in their homes. As the temperatures plummet in winter, home heating costs can rise. Here are a few ways to stay nice and cozy with your home, energy bill and environmental footprint:
Winterizing your home on the outside
It may seem counterintuitive that what’s going outside of your home affects what happens with your energy efficiency inside your home, but little things on the outside can make a big difference to managing indoor comfort and energy costs.
Check the frames around exterior windows and doors (including your garage door). If you see cracks or gaps, seal them up with acrylic, latex or rubber caulking (avoid fast drying varieties for outside) or weather stripping (standard or tape format).
If you have storm windows, change the screens. And if you have siding on your home, check to see if it’s in good condition with no cracks or gaps. Any small leaks will cause you to lose heat from your home. These little leaks will make your furnace work harder and drive up your winter heating bill.
One more place to check — your gutters or eavestrough as we like to call it in Canada. Leaves, dirt and debris from shingles can clog gutters. In winter this can lead to ice jams that have the potential to damage your roof. Not only is this an expensive repair, a gap in your roof can also be a heat leak.
Home energy savings tips for inside
Inside your home, check the windows and doors for gaps, using caulking or weatherstripping to fill any spaces you find. If you have a drafty window, install blinds or heavy curtains. Conversely, take advantage of direct sunlight to get an energy and mood boost from Mother Nature.
Ideal indoor temperatures for Canadian homes in the winter
Another way to save money on home heating during the winter is to set your thermostat to the ideal temperature. If you’re home during the day, the ideal temperature is 20 to 22°C. When you’re away or asleep, the ideal range is 17 to 19°F.
If you can hack it, put on a sweater and turn down the heat another degree or two during the day. Every degree you can lower the heat during the day or night will help you lower your home heating costs.
A digital or smart thermostat also lets you set daytime and nighttime programs to control the temperature in your home.
More ways to boost the energy efficiency of your furnace
Before winter’s freezing temperatures arrive to stay, schedule a winter check-up for your furnace. This will ensure that your furnace won’t fail during when the mercury drops and that your furnace is working at peak performance. Changing your filter on a regular basis also helps maintain the efficiency of your furnace.
If you’re planning to replace your furnace, newer furnaces are more energy efficient. Furnace efficiency is measured by something called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. Furnaces with an AFUE rating of 95% or higher are considered Energy Star certified.
Advanced features, like variable speed and multi-stage blower motors also boost energy efficiency.
Warm up to saving energy
While winter’s already begun, there’s still time to have your furnace serviced or find out more about replacing an older furnace. Contact Afterglow for your winterizing needs! You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.
Lights, gatherings, celebrations — the holidays bring a lot of joy and a lot of preparation and planning. Here are a few simple home safety tips you can use so that you can spend more time in the moment and avoid crisis mode altogether.
1. Keep it Light
Regardless of how you celebrate if you’ve got indoor or outdoor holiday lights, one of the main holiday safety tips to follow is to make sure that all the wiring is in good condition. Watch for frayed cords or broken connections. Replacing a broken string of lights is much more cost effective than the alternative of replacing your home and contents.
When purchasing lights or any electrical products for your home, look for the following symbols. Below is a list of the symbols used in Ontario, courtesy of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).
2. Maintain an Air of Comfort
With the furnace running and the windows closed, conversations aren’t the only things that can get a little dry. This is why maintaining indoor air quality and proper humidity levels are so important during the holidays and throughout the winter heating season.
Ideal home humidity levels in winter are 30-40% at 19-23°C. Air that’s too dry can irritate nasal passages and worsen dry skin. In addition to physical discomfort, overly dry indoor air can also dry out woodwork and hardwood floors, cause your fresh tree to get parched more easily and damage sensitive musical instruments and electronics.
Note: If you see condensation on your windows, this is a sign that your humidity is too high and need to be lowered. As a benchmark, humidity levels shouldn’t be any higher than 45%.
3. Avoid Shocking Situations
During the holidays, the only electricity in the air should be the anticipation of time spent with family and friends. Keep everyone safe in your home by:
- Replacing missing or broken plate covers.
- Using safety covers to protect younger children from exposed outlets.
- Keeping all loose cords out of reach when younger children (especially the orally fixated ones) are about.
- Teaching older children how to use plugs and outlets correctly.
- Using surge protectors for indoor lights and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) for outdoor lights or if electronics are anywhere near water (think kitchen and bathroom) and don’t overload outlets (no more than three strings of lights at a time)
4. Prevent Slip-ups
Treat icy porches, steps, and walkways with de-icer. If you want to avoid the heavy use of salt and chemicals, there are many eco-friendly options now on the market. In a pinch, you can also use cat litter or sandbox sand.
Inside your home wipe up any spills or inadvertently placed wet footprints. Be mindful of hard surfaces like tile and hardwood floors that can be more slippery when wet. (Yes, the Bon Jovi reference is deliberate.)
5. Stay On-Point
Poinsettias add a festive pop of red or white. However, they also have a bit of a bad reputation in terms of holiday safety. The truth is while they can cause a child or pet to be sick from sampling these savories, a 50-pound child or pet would have to eat more than 500 leaves to reach toxic levels. In other words, there’s no need to skip the poinsettias — just keep an eye on them when children or pets are in the mix.
Bonus Tip: Don’t let pets drink from the Christmas tree water. Tree preservatives contain compounds and chemicals that can cause an upset tummy.
Stay safe and cozy this holiday season. There’s still time to schedule routine service check of your furnace to ensure you’re not feeling any unwanted chills. Of course, emergency service is also available for any holiday surprises. Want to learn more about home humidity levels? We can help you with that too. All you have to do is contact Afterglow.
As winter approaches, it’s important to not only prepare yourself for the cold weather but your home as well. If your home is not properly winterized, it will leak both warm air and money. Here are some helpful tips to avoid winter complications!
Run Fans In Reverse
Many ceiling fans come with a switch allowing the blades to reverse their direction. By switching the blades from counterclockwise to clockwise, the breeze becomes warmer which helps heat your home! This small but effective tip is often overlooked yet it can make a difference in your home (and bills) over the winter months.
Air leakage is very common in homes and cool drafts can increase the cost of heating your home. According to Union Gas, 30-40% of heat loss is due to air leakage. Here are some effective ways to protect your home from air leakage:
- Add draft snakes along the bottom of drafty doors to eliminate breezes that sweep under doorways.
- Install plastic window seals to stop drafts. These kits can be found anywhere, including the dollar store and require little to no labour.
- Caulk gaps to effectively seal off air leakage for a more permanent solution.
- Install storm windows and doors to stop the cold winter winds. Government incentives are often available if you choose to install storm windows and doors.
Change Furnace Filters
It’s important to remember to change your furnace filter every 2-3 months (depending on your model) in order to ensure your furnace runs effectively and efficiently.
Permanent filters are also a great, environmentally friendly option that will save you the trouble of having to remember to change your filters as often. Remember that you can always call on Afterglow for help getting your furnace ready for the wintry days ahead.
Trim Back Your Trees
The arrival of changing temperatures and winter storms can often mean trees get a heavy coating of ice which can cause breakage. It’s crucial to trim back the branches near your driveway, roof or windows to avoid the risk of damage or injury.
Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters can cause water to pool and freeze creating ice dams, jamming the flow of water. This can cause damage not only to your gutters, but also cause leaks inside your home. When your gutters are clogged, the melted snow from the roof pools up, eventually seeping into the house. To prevent this issue, make sure all leaves and other debris are cleared from the gutter before winter.
You can prepare your home for winter by ensuring each of these areas receives attention before it develops into a larger problem. But if you are worried about whether your HVAC is prepped for winter, contact us to check that your major systems are ready.