10 Green Tips to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

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Water can freeze and break pipes, causing significant damage to walls, ceilings, floors and personal possessions stored in the basement or crawl spaces. By disconnecting hoses, shutting off valves and insulating you pipes, you can avoid this costly damage.

✔ Drain and disconnect your hoses – Be sure to drain all garden hoses and disconnect them from your home. If hoses are left connected, water can freeze in them and bust your outdoor pipes.

✔ If you leave your home, set your thermostat to 55 F – If you are leaving your home for more than a couple of days, make sure that your thermostat is set to no lower than F 55. This will insure that your pipes, will have adequate heat to keep from freezing.

✔ Avoid frozen pipes – Exposed pipes represent the largest water threat to your home during the winter months. When water freezes it expands and can bust or crack your pipes, sending thousands of gallons of water into your home. Walls, ceilings, floors and personal possessions stored in the basement or crawl spaces can all be ruined.

Be sure to first identify, and then properly insulate any exposed pipes that may be in crawl spaces, basements, garages or on the exterior of your house. You can insulate your pipes with foam-rubber pipe insulation to protect exposed pipes from cold. The insulation process is straightforward. Simply slip foam-rubber insulation over pipe, peel away backing strips, then press the adhesive surfaces together.

Another option is to wrap your exposed pipes with electrical heating tape. These tapes are specifically designed to wrap around water pipes and act like a little electric blanket preventing the pipes from freezing. Be sure any heating tapes you buy have been approved by Underwriters Laboratories and have the UL symbol on them.

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5 Green Tips for Drafts & Insulation

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Identifying drafts and ensuring you home has proper levels of insulation are two ways to reduce your home heating expenses. Weatherization incentive programs sponsored by the government could also save you thousands of dollars when you make insulation upgrades.

Identify your drafts – According to the US Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your home energy use. Finding the sources of your drafts is the first step in addressing them. Simple things such as a candle or incense can help you determine the source. If the source is a crack in a wall or around the baseboards, seal these. If the draft is coming from a door or a window, read the ‘Doors & Windows” section of this guide for suggestions.

Use a draft snake – If you have a drafty door, use a draft snake to stop the flow of air. These can be purchased at a DIY store, or made from an old bath towel.

Inspect and Increase your insulation – Increasing your insulation is one of the best ways to save on your home heating expenses. You will want to inspect the level of insulation you have in your walls, your attic, around your ducts and in your basement.

The federal government will reimburse you for 30% of the cost (up to $1500) for highly efficient insulation. Additionally, low-income households can qualify for an average of $6500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. To find the government incentives for your region, read the “Rebates, Tax Credits & Financing” section of this guide.

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