Yesterday, it got up to 83 degrees here in Austin, tying a
Forecasters say it should be comfortable for most of today. Later this afternoon, though, temperatures will start dropping. And on Thanksgiving, most Central Texas thermometers are expected to make it only into the low 50s.
Now I know that's not cold. But forecasters say the front bringing in the lower temps, along with gusty north winds and some rain, marks our official weather season shift. So when we turn on our furnaces this evening to combat overnight readings in the 30s and 40s, they'll likely stay on until spring arrives.
Readying the residence: Many of you probably have already gotten your homes ready for winter. But for folks living in more temperate climes and who are just now (or not quite yet) feeling fall's first real chill, now's the time for some crucial pre-winter home tasks.
This MSN article suggests things such as cleaning gutters, caulking leaks, adding insulation and, one of my favorite energy-saving moves, reversing your ceiling fan.
This really works. Changing the direction -- usually going from a counterclockwise to clockwise spin as you look up at the fan -- will push warm air downward, keeping you more comfortable and preventing your heater from coming on so often.
Ah, the heater. The primary home winterization step you need to take is checking out your heating system before you absolutely need it.
The hubby and I did this last week when we climbed up into the attic to replace the filter in the new air handler we got installed this summer. That fiscal adventure, right at the peak of air conditioning season, is recounted in this blog entry.
An alarming odor: The new filter system was a bit of a challenge, especially since the installer didn't leave us an operation manual (thank goodness for the Internet!). But what really caught my attention was the faint odor of gas.
It wasn't much, and the hubby didn't even smell it. But I did, so I called the HVAC company. They sent a guy out who confirmed that my nose was up to snuff, or rather sniff. Thankfully, a connection just needed a little tightening.
The technician also double checked other connections and showed us a couple of new programming features of the thermostat we also had installed during the summer.
Even better, the work was still under warranty, so we didn't face a charge for our preseason checkup.
While gas leaks, however small, are not common (I hope!), you still need to have your system checked out annually. As Free Money Finance notes here, "This is more than a pocketbook issue, since poorly functioning systems can cause deadly carbon monoxide buildup in your home."
Now we're ready, at least as far as the heater goes, for the chill to arrive.
Just in case you have a natural gas heating system (and are a worrier like me), I want to share with you some tips on detecting natural gas leaks that came in our most recent bill.
Click the image above (or this link in case the photo doesn't show up in your browser or feed reader) for the full gas company fact sheet (bilingual, PDF format).
More winterization tips: Lots of bloggers recently have offered their ideas on getting your abode ready for winter. Here are a few:
- Winterizing your home to-do list from Buying and Selling Real Estate in Rhode Island,
- 10 tips for winterizing your home for efficiency from Simply Natural and
- Weatherizing and winterizing your home from Home Know-It-All.
InnStyle Montana also has some suggestions on Winterizing Simply. This bed and breakfast owner in one of the country's coldest states says you can reduce your home’s energy use by using space heaters, properly operating the aforementioned ceiling fans, and warming your body instead of the air around you.
"There are many ways to warms your body that require no energy at all!" declares InnStyle.
Remember the tax break: If you can get that body warmth comment out of your head for a minute, let's concentrate on the tax benefits of energy efficient home improvements.
Under a federal law that took effect
But if you haven't used up the tax break or claimed only part of it on last year's 1040, then things such as adding insulation, putting in replacement windows or even tinting existing windows and doors will count (up to that overall $500 maximum) on your 2007 return as long as the work is done by
Details on the credit and eligible home improvements can be found at this Energy Star page.