It’s that time of the year where homeowners are flooded with energy savings tips that will reduce their carbon footprint and monthly utility bills alike. However, did you know that by paying more attention to energy consumption you also help reduce the potential for damage and injury in the home and therefore insurance liability? Today, Park Insurance is here with two-for-one tips to saving energy and minimizing the risk of damaging events that commonly occur in the winter season.
5 Energy Saving Tips for Winter That Also Reduce Liability Risk in the Home
1. Make Your Home Airtight
If there is a draft or cold spot in your home, then there’s a good chance that you have an air leak nearby. Not only will this allow heat to escape while inviting in the frostbitten air of winter, it can directly result in moisture damage to the trim, baseboards, walls, roofing and even the foundation of your home. Even without seasonal rain, sleet, or snow, the freeze-thaw cycles that occur from day to night during a cold snap can draw water into the seams. Nip this potential in the bud by making your house or condo airtight by caulking and/or weatherstripping the trim around windows, baseboards, doors, and throughout the attic. Check the fascia board, roofing shingles, and chimney for disrepair too. If you have a fireplace, install airtight glass doors so that heat is not allowed to escape when not in use. In doing so, you reduce the heating expenditure required to make the home more comfortable and diminish the threat of water damage.
2. Don’t Block Heating Systems
Does the couch or other furnishing block your heating vent from view? While this may be aesthetically pleasing, it reduces air circulation and makes your heating system work harder, while at the same time increasing the risk of fire. The latter is the case for the simple fact that flammable furnishing materials are in close contact with the heat vents, and when the air/heat circulation is cut off, the system becomes hotter at the point of contact and can result in a fire. Walk around the home this winter and make sure that vents have room to breathe. If using portable heaters, position them far away from flammables/combustibles and unplug them when not in use.
3. Have Heating Systems Inspected (and Repaired)
At the start of the winter season, have a professional inspect installed heaters, vents, HVAC systems, and furnaces as applicable. If there are issues with any of them, have them repaired or replaced. This small investment will deliver an ROI overtime as energy use (and expenditure) to heat the home is reduced while the risk of fire from malfunctioning units is mitigated.
4. Fix the Plumbing
Not only will a leaky faucet increase another utility bill, it can result in flooding and water damage when it goes unchecked. When it’s winter, another layer of concern is piled on to this plumbing concern, as below 0 °C temperatures can freeze water in pipes, causing them to burst which can leave your home in flood waters at the worst possible time of the year. Save on water consumption while further minimizing the possibility of damage by inspecting faucets in addition to pipes and pipe insulation under the sink and those found running along exterior walls (where allowable). If you live in an older home and the piping system is not visibly accessible, bring in a professional. They may have to excavate if they suspect a leak, but the minor inconvenience pales in comparison to the damage that can be caused if the issue is left unattended.
Leave no stone or water valve unturned in this energy saving (and safety) mission.
5. Unplug Decorative Lighting
For many households throughout the Lower Mainland, ’tis the season for decorative lighting in the home. While you should absolutely enjoy them until your hearts’ content, unplug them when leaving the home and again when you retreat into your nightly slumber. Seasonal lighting directly inflates energy consumption and your monthly hydro bill. Even condo owners feel the wrath, as a typical 2-bedroom apartment (900+ square feet) can see a monthly hydro bill jump from $45/month to $300/month in the month of December when you combine increased heating needs with decorative lighting. Of course, unplugging when no one is home or awake to enjoy them will also directly reduce the risk of fire. The same applies for lighting that you’ve hung from the roof, patio, or carport with care. While it may seem as a beacon of goodwill for the winter, it will also inflate your expenses and increase fire hazards when left unattended in the wee hours of night.
Reference BC Hydro’s guide to holiday lighting energy efficiency and safety to learn more.
Afford your home an extra blanket of protection this winter season by having an independent broker assess your current homeowners’ insurance policy. Contact Park Insurance today.