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It's autumn: time to winterize your home

Fall is upon us. It’s a time when many members of the animal kingdom begin to store food and build up their fat supply in anticipation of a long, cold season.

Though full-on hibernation is not a real possibility for humans, fall is a time when many homeowners begin to make certain preparations for the winter. Known as winterizing, or weatherizing, a few easy and economical projects can save residents hundreds or even thousands in the coming months, according to Rick Holgate, salesman at Suburban Ace Hardware in Aloha.

“Basically, it’s about protecting your investment in your home, and cutting energy costs,” he said.

Holgate said customers have already been coming to his store in droves, looking for tips and tricks for winterizing their homes on a budget. One of the first things he advises is to consider insulating the vent windows many Portland area homes have in their basement crawlspaces or foundations.

In warmer months, these vents serve a valuable function in helping keep homes cool during the summer heat. But in the winter, they can be a major drag on heating costs if not properly insulated.

Holgate said Styrofoam pieces that fit into these vents are easy to find and easy on your wallet, generally running between $1.50 and $3 each, depending on size.

Another important part of insulating one’s home is to check doors and windows for drafts. Leaks can often be located easily simply by feeling for breezes where there shouldn’t be any, or visually inspecting cracks to determine if light can be seen coming through.

Gaps between window frames and walls can be repaired inexpensively using a manually operated caulk gun. For doors, Holgate recommends weatherstripping.

“It’s this foam or rubber tape,” he said. “You just peel that off and apply it around the doorway, and it creates a barrier so the air can’t get through.”

Even for homes that have already been weatherstripped, it’s a good idea to reexamine doorways to ensure that the old tape is in good condition and doesn’t need to be replaced.

Finally, Holgate advises homeowners to look at insulating their outdoor, exterior and basement pipes and spigots. For just a few bucks, do-it-yourselfers can help prevent pipe freezing and breakages by wrapping them in specially designed foam or Styrofoam insulation.

“A frozen pipe means a plumber and a lot of money,” Holgate warned. “It’s an expensive fix if your pipes burst.”




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