Las Vegas Sun

February 28, 2024

Even in the desert, you should winterize your home

As temperatures drop and fall sets in, it’s time to weatherize your home — something many of us desert dwellers overlook.

You may think the yearly preparation is unnecessary because the valley doesn’t suffer from extreme cold weather, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A few basic steps can save you energy and money while keeping your home nice and cozy until spring.

• Attic insulation: Some attics aren’t insulated properly. That can create a big source of heat loss in the winter and loss of cool air in the summer. Ask an expert at a home improvement store, or do your research online, to find the best type of insulation for your home.

• Inspect roof, gutters and downspouts: Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. Check for leaks to ensure water cannot enter. Clean out gutters and use a hose to spray water down downspouts to clear away debris. Consider installing leaf guards on gutters or extensions on downspouts to direct water away from your home.

• Protect your pipes: While Las Vegas doesn’t have many days that dip below freezing, it does happen occasionally. Avoid burst pipes by clearing lines and turning off valves before freezing nights. Use foam to help insulate spigots and exposed pipes.

• Seal windows and doors: Drafty windows and doors are prime places for energy loss. Install new weather-stripping or caulk around the edges of your windows. Add a layer of plastic film for extra protection. Under doors, install a bottom seal to prevent air from entering or escaping. A good door seal also can prevent insects and critters from coming in. Don’t forget to check the exterior for cracks and holes, too.

• Reverse your fan: Most new model fans are fitted with a reverse switch, which moves blades clockwise to help push warm air downward.

• Prep your fireplace: Many locals have the luxury of electric fireplaces that don’t require cleaning. Wood-burning or gas fireplaces, however, should be cleaned and maintained regularly. Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.

• Prepare landscaping: Trim trees and branches that hang too close to your house or electrical wires. Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

• Clean your HVAC ducts: Air and heating ducts should be cleaned regularly to ensure top performance and effectiveness. Ducts should be vacuumed every couple of years to clean out dust, hair and gunk. This is especially important for people who are sensitive to dust and pet dander.

Always do these, regardless of season

• Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Make sure your smoke detector batteries are fully charged and functioning properly. Test carbon monoxide detectors and remove dust build-up from devices to prevent faulty alarms.

• Prepare an emergency kit: Essential for winter road trips or unplanned power failures, kits should include water, flashlights and batteries, first-aid supplies, whistles to signal for help, basic tools, a manual can opener, a small supply of food, a radio, candles, a lighter or matches, blankets and rope.

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