1. Flip that little switch on your ceiling fans so they turn in reverse. As we all know ceiling fans normally turn in a direction that pushes air down. This creates a gentle breeze feeling in your house that cools you off via evaporation. When you switch the fan to reverse instead of blowing on you, it pushes air up forcing the hot air that’s pooling around your ceiling down your walls. This air circulation helps the efficiency of whatever heat source you have working in your house.
2. if your house has a swamp cooler its time to winterize that too. It will prevent damage from frozen water lines, prevent rust, and close off the vent that would let heat out. First disconnect the power source to the evaporative cooler, then turn off the water supply. After that drain the cooler removing as much water as possible. To do this remove the side of the cooler and sponge out as much water as you can into a bucket. Next clean the unit using a shop vac. Its best to change the pads in evaporative coolers once a year. Now might be a good time to do this. The final step is covering your cooler and closing off the vent.
3. Take care of any drafts. When I’m doing a home inspection I often see that the weather seals around exterior doors are failing. For some reason this is a favorite thing for dogs to chew. Close your exterior door and look for light. If you see a large gap it’s a good idea to replace your weather stripping. You might also want to purchase one of those under-door draft stoppers if you think a draft is originating from under the door. Next check windows especially if you have an older house. A draft from a window on to a thermostat can cause your heater to think you house is colder than it actually is. I like to install window insulation film. For not much money you can install this film around you window giving another space of trapped air. This can increase the comfort of you home considerably. As a plus if your blinds are installed in a recesses fashion this film will keep them from getting dirty. In my house it seems the blinds are ash magnet for any small particles my wood burning stove creates. I just cut a small hole in the film for the strings so I can still adjust the blinds.
4. Change the filter on your forced air unit. This should be done once a month but if its been neglected now’s the time to change it. A dirty filter can greatly affect the efficiency of your furnace.
5. Make sure the ducts on you forced air system are correctly insulated. When I’m in the crawlspace for a home inspection I often find this insulation falling off ducts. If this is the case all you need are a few rolls of duct tape to fasten the insulation back in place.
6. Insulate the wall of your foundation. This only applies to houses with a crawl space and for people who are willing to take on a project. Insulating the floors from underneath the joists is a must but it also helps to insulated the stem walls of your crawl space foundation. The concrete or cinder block stem walls seem to loose a lot of heat in the winter. I think one of the best ways to insulate these walls is with rigid foam. I use the blue closed cell foam and instead of mechanically fasten it I glue it using spray foam. You can cut the foam to size, spray the back of it in a few places with a can of foam, and use 2x4 lumber propped at angles to press the foam against the stem wall. After an hour or so you can remove this lumber and move on to the next segment.