Recent Posts

SERVPRO of Central Union County-New Facility!!

7/6/2017 (Permalink)

Community SERVPRO of Central Union County-New Facility!! New Office/Warehouse Location 1094 Globe Ave. Mountainside, NJ 07092

It is official!!! SERVPRO of Central Union County is all moved into our new office/warehouse location: 

1094 Globe Avenue, Mountainside, NJ

 We look forward to serving you; reach out to us at (908)233-9090, or 866-361-3400 Toll Free!

May Is National Building Safety Month

5/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Safety Month—in its 37th year—is an initiative of the International Code Council (ICC) and their 57,000 members across the world, as well as their partners in building construction and design, and the safety community. Building Safety Month is an opportunity to educate insurance and commercial property professionals, as well as the general public, on “what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable, and energy-efficient homes and buildings,” according to the ICC website.

The theme for 2017 is Code Officials— Partners in Community Safety and Economic Growth and highlights managing disasters, specifically natural disasters, in week three of this year’s campaign. Some of the topics and tips shared throughout the month include Disaster Safety and Mitigation, as well as Fire Safety and Awareness. The general public may not be aware how codes and code officials “improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship, and play,” and this month can certainly improve that awareness!

IMPORTANT TIPS FROM THE ICC Disaster Safety & Mitigation n

*If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code-approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, consider temporarily protecting your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 7/16" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board-up.

* Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado-safe room in your home. Follow ICC/NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.

* In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks, and walkways. Follow ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® for detailed requirements.

*Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.


US Small Business Administration-Small Business Week

5/1/2017 (Permalink)

General US Small Business Administration-Small Business Week Small Business Administration (SBA) Activity

SERVPRO of Central Union County is certified as a Small Business by the US Small Business Administration (SBA), and by the State of New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey as a Small Business Enterprise

Dirty Ducts? Improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning

4/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Services Dirty Ducts? Improve your indoor air quality with duct cleaning Over time, different contaminants or foreign objects can enter and collect in your air ducts that may diminish the indoor air quality of your system

Did you know your ventilation system is often the biggest culprit in poor indoor air quality? Inspecting the ductwork in your facility or home should be a high priority. In most cases, the HVAC system has been operating for some time without much attention. Dirty ducts can circulate odors, contaminants such as mold, and irritating dust throughout  your building or home.

A routine part of your local SERVPRO® Franchise Professional’s service is inspecting the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit (HVAC). Keeping the HVAC and ductwork clean can potentially extend the life-span of the equipment by allowing it to operate at peak condition, which may help save you money. Duct cleaning may not always be necessary.  SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals will inspect your HVAC system and ductwork and make recommendations about the best way to address any indoor air quality concerns. This inspection can help save you money and provide peace of mind on the health of your HVAC system and ductwork.

In some circumstances, such as after a fire, smoke, or suspected mold growth, duct cleaning becomes an essential part of the cleanup process. In these cases, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional can often restore the HVAC system and ductwork to pre-damage condition. 

If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be inspected for proper functioning and be serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

The SERVPRO® Duct Cleaning System is proven and cost-efficient. Unlike the majority of duct cleaning services, your SERVPRO® Franchise Professional uses a portable ventilation and air duct cleaning system to examine ductwork and make a clean sweep, removing years of dust and grime.

  • The process begins by using patented equipment, including a roto-scraper, which automatically adapts to the duct’s shape and diameter while traveling through the duct, removing debris and filth before vacuuming begins.  

  • Next, a powerful push-pull air delivery and collection system transfers the debris from the ducting to a 16-gallon container.n Air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system, removing 99.97 percent of the particles in the airstream. HEPA filters capture debris and keep the indoor environment clean.

  • As an optional process, a sealant or coating product may be sprayed to address odor or microbial concerns.

  • Filters will either be cleaned or replaced to remove odor and dirt.

For more information on duct cleaning, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today, 908-233-7070!

The Importance of Cleaning Dryer Vents

4/11/2017 (Permalink)

Building Services The Importance of Cleaning  Dryer Vents Fire Prevention

According to FEMA, failure to clean home dryers causes 34% of home dryer fires. Home dryer fires cause $35 million in property loss and can even cause injury or death.

To reduce the risk of these fires happening in your or your insured’s home or business, SERVPRO® can help clean dryer vents and ducts that may have lint buildup.

Other tips for keeping your dryer vents clean from the National Fire Protection Agency include cleaning the lint filter before and after each load, and making sure the outdoor vent flap will open and is not restricted by snow, a bird’s nest, or other potential obstacles.

For more information on cleaning dryer vents contact us at (908)233-7070

Things Your Parents Didn't Tell You About Taking Care of Your Home: Winterizing Your Home

1/6/2017 (Permalink)

Ice dams are a common homeowner’s nightmare in the winter whenever it snows, potentially causing major and costly water damage to your roof and even ceilings. Ice dams occur when snow on the roof melts slightly then refreezes when the runoff reaches the eaves, often in the gutters. When the day warms even slightly, the top layer melts but is unable to drain off properly, resulting in a pool of water up against the base of your roof. The water then often seeps under the roofing material, sometimes as much as 5ft or even 10ft up. Eventually, the water can work its way into your house’s soffits, walls, and even ceilings. When it comes to ice dams, an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.


Essential Maintenance

Thoroughly clean out your gutters and downspout after the last leaves have fallen in your neighborhood, but certainly before the first snows of the season. Water will run more swiftly through cleaned gutters, giving it less time to freeze. Empty gutters also allow more room for ice and water to pool before it starts threatening your roof.

Try to purchase a roof rake or snow rake (a type of rake specially designed for cleaning your roof of snow) before the first snow of the season, then scrape the snow off your roof after each snowfall, or pay someone to come out and scrape the snow for you. This can also help avoid problems with the snow falling suddenly and possibly hitting someone when it comes loose as it melts. Unfortunately, snow rakes only work for single-story homes – they’re not long enough to reach a second floor, and you should never use a roof rake while standing on a ladder. Snow rakes work well if you experience heavy snows only rarely, but can be tedious to use.You will also need to be careful to not damage shingles since they can become brittle in the cold. Specially designed roof rakes are available for clearing snow off solar panels – standard roof rakes should not be used on panels as they can scratch the photorefractive surface.

If nothing else works, heat cables can help prevent ice dams as a fallback measure, especially if installed in the gutters and the downspout. Heat cables run over portions of the roof in a zigzag pattern, melting away ice and snow when turned on and can help if installed on a part of your roof particularly prone to ice dams. They might not prevent ice dams entirely, but heat cables can create enough of a channel for water to drain away, preventing some water damage.

Next time you need to replace your roof, also consider adding a special ice-and-water barrier under the shingles up to 3ft to 6ft from the roof’s edge. It will help with waterproofing, and the building codes in most areas now actually require an ice-and-water barrier to be installed under your roof. Your local building inspector will know how far up the barrier needs to extend in your region.

A Colder Roof

Generally speaking, ice dams form when the surface of your roof is above freezing, but the edges of your roof are below freezing. As hot air leaks from inside your house, it warms up your roof, often just enough to bring it right to the edge of freezing, creating the conditions in which ice dams can form. Many of the methods listed here can also reduce heat leakage, lowering your heating bill.

The average U.S. home loses about one-third of its heat through the ceiling and into the attic, and from there into the outside world. Most of that loss is due to leaks between the conditioned home and unconditioned attic. Unfortunately, air leaks are a hard nut to crack, since you usually have to go into the attic, pull back insulation, and plug any leaks by hand with foam, caulk, or other methods. Leaks usually occur around anything that penetrates the ceiling, like pipes, ceiling fixtures, access hatches, and others. Sealing leaks is ideally a cold-weather project since otherwise your attic will likely be too warm.

Heat loss also occurs through inadequate insulation. How much insulation you need varies depending on where you live. Generally, blown-in cellulose and fiberglass will serve better in colder regions, since they leave fewer gaps. See our article on installing insulation for a more in-depth look at how much and what kind of attic insulation your home needs. You will also want to make sure that any insulation doesn’t block your airflow. Baffles usually prevent blocked airflow, though you will still want to check your soffit vents.

Adding attic ventilation to an unfinished attic will make the attic colder, keeping the roof from heating up. Attic ventilation can be complicated. Generally speaking, you need about 1 sq ft of vent (the actual openings, added together for total vent area) per 300 sq ft of ceiling area (the size of the attic floor), with half of the total vent area low on the roof and half high on the roof. Look at your existing vents to find the area of each (which should be stamped somewhere easily visible), then add the area of your existing vents together to find out how much you still need. Some roof styles are harder to vent than others. When in doubt, contact a qualified contractor for advice and guidance.

Also, whenever you make your home more airtight, double check your combustion appliances, including furnaces and most water heaters, for backdrafts. If your appliance isn’t drafting properly, it could be leaking deadly waste products into your home. If you suspect you might have a problem with back drafting, contact a licensed home inspector to check your house and combustion appliances.

What to Do If a Dam Forms


Sometimes even the best preventative measures can’t stop dams from forming. Try to carefully remove any forming ice from your gutters. If you have heat cables, they can also reduce the damage a building ice dam will do. The safest way to remove the ice entirely, though, is to hire a roofing company to use a steamer to remove any ice and snow. A steamer uses hot water at high pressure to melt the ice without risking the damage that an ice pick does.

Bad NJ Winter Weather Forecast Released: Polar Vortex May Return

12/2/2016 (Permalink)

New Jersey and Pennsylvania may be in for another polar vortex weather system that could send temperatures into the record books in late winter and early spring, forecasters say.

And you probably don’t need to be reminded of the bone-chilling nightmare that was the winter of 2013-2014, when record low temperatures extended well into March. It was cold everywhere, and on Jan. 7, 2014, the temperature in every state in the country dipped below 32 degrees, even in Hawaii, where it was 25 degrees. At least 33 deaths were blamed on the record cold.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dean DeVore said it looks like the area could get a one-two punch from a couple of polar vortices.

“If you really delve deep into it there’s actually a couple of vortices,” DeVore told reporters. “One’s in the lower level of the atmosphere, one's in the higher levels. All of that — part and partial — looks like there’s a shift in one of the polar vortices that is expected to happen going into this winter.”

Polar vortices often mean colder temperatures in February and March. Though he expects some periods of extreme cold, DeVore thinks a bigger effect on winter weather will be the change from an El Niño to a mild La Niña system, which is occurring now and is expected to result in a colder, snowier winter, a departure from the last couple of years, he told told WWJ/CBS Detroit.

The prediction would match what was already forecasted by AccuWeather, which recently released its long-range forecast that predicts it will feel like an extended winter for New Jersey and Pennsylvania as cold and snowy conditions will likely stretch into spring 2017.

Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. — particularly in the Northeast — this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.

"I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season," AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.

Unlike last season, in which most of winter's snowfall came from a few heavy-hitting storms, this winter will last into the early or middle part of spring and will feature frequent snow events.

AccuWeather said much of the accumulation will be in New Jersey, the Philadelphia metropolitan area and south of Washington, D.C. These areas will see a handful of changeover systems, where falling snow transitions to rain and sleet.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile, has released its long-range weather predictions for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. If the publication's long-range forecast is accurate, we should expect above-normal temperatures this winter in the central part of the Atlantic Corridor region, which includes New Jersey.

What is a Polar Vortex?

Though the term was only popularized in recent years, polar vortices aren’t anything new. The National Weather Service explains that a polar vortex — a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles — always exists but weakens in the summers and strengthens in the winter.

“The term ‘vortex’ refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Pole,” the Weather Service explained. “Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream. This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States.”

Similar outbreaks of extreme cold were also reported in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.

Protect Your Pipes

So, what should you do to get your home and car ready while it’s still relatively mild? Even if the polar vortex doesn’t bring brutally frigid weather, you should take some precautions because the weather will turn colder.

Make sure your plumbing pipes are protected. Pipes freeze under three common scenarios: quick temperature drops, poor insulation and thermostats that are set too low. Some suggestions from the American Red CrossPopular Mechanics and American Home Shield:

  • Check the insulation of pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and the attic, because they’re the most susceptible when temperatures plummet.
  • Wrap pipes in heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables, but be sure they’re approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
  • Use caulk or insulation to seal leaks that allow cold air to flow inside near plumbing pipes. Pay particular attention to leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and the pipes themselves.
  • Disconnect hoses from each spigot on the outside of your house. Drain and store them.
  • Use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This will reduce the chance the short span of pipe just inside the house will freeze.
  • In extreme cold, you may be able prevent your pipes from freezing by allowing a trickle of warm water to drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Leave your thermostat at the same temperature, day and night. Your routine may be to turn the heat down when you go to bed, but when the temperature plummets, which often occurs overnight, your pipes could freeze. Better to have a higher heating bill than costly repairs necessary when pipes freeze and burst.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Another idea is to turn off the main water valve before you leave home, even if you’re going to be gone only for a weekend.


Furnace Been Checked Lately?

With the house sealed up, you’ll also want to check these items off your list:

  • Make sure your furnace has been serviced to ensure it is running efficiently and safely.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector and water heater, especially since they could be running on overdrive in freezing temperatures.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the chimney is cleaned and the chimney cap is in place.

What to Do During Power Outage

You should also gather some other items you may need in the case of a power outage — and don’t forget to talk through the emergency plan with your family:

  • Have plenty of matches, candles and flashlights on hand in case the power goes out.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, make sure you have some cut firewood ready in case of an emergency.
  • A few extra gallons of water.
  • Non-perishable food items for you and your pets.
  • Lots of blankets, sleeping bags and comforters.
  • A battery-powered radio.
  • Backup battery for your cell phone and computer
  • A first-aid kit.

Dress for the Cold Regardless

Now, make sure your vehicle is ready to go for the cold months ahead. Here are some tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Have you located the windshield scraper and brush? Find them before you need them.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full during extreme cold situation, so you can stay warm if you become stranded.
  • Dress for the extreme cold, even if you don’t think you’ll be out much.

Graphic courtesy of NOAACar Emergency Survival Kit Must-Haves

Put together a winter car survival kit for your vehicle. Be sure to include:

  • Definitely include jumper cables, but you may want to include flares or reflective triangle as well.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • First-aid kit, including necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child.
  • Non-perishable food items such as canned food (don’t forget a can opener) and protein-rich foods like nuts and energy bars. If you travel with pets, make sure to include food for them, too.
  • Water — at least a gallon of water per person a day for at least three days.
  • Basic toolkit with pliers, wrench and screwdriver.
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction.
  • A shovel to dig out of snow.
  • Extra gloves, hats, sturdy boots, jacket and extra change of clothes for the cold.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A car charger for your cellphone

Hurricane Matthew Information-Red Cross Updates

10/14/2016 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Hurricane Matthew Information-Red Cross Updates Wind damage from Hurricane Matthew

Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the United States, Red Cross and community shelters have provided over 70,000 overnight stays.
This massive sheltering effort has provided nearly as many overnight stays in shelters as after Superstorm Sandy.
American Red Cross Response Along the East Coast:
Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the U.S., Red Cross and community partners have served more than 137,000 meals and snacks, and provided 74,000 overnight stays.
The Red Cross has mobilized 3,000 disaster workers, 155 response vehicles—nearly half of our total fleet—and more than 100 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.
More volunteers, vehicles and supplies are being mobilized now to supplement relief efforts.
As conditions permit, Red Cross response vehicles will begin circulating through the hardest hit areas to begin delivering food and relief supplies
Even in areas where homes were on higher ground, further away from the water and less prone to flooding, wind damage from Hurricane Matthew caused older trees in historic and established communities in Georgia and South Carolina to fall onto homes, crushing them due to the age and size of the trees. Trees and large limbs covered streets and cars.

New Long-Range NJ Winter Forecast Released, And it's Not Good

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

A new long-range NJ winter forecast has been released, and You should be prepared.

If the latest long-range forecast is correct, it's a good time to start shopping for a new snow shovel.

AccuWeather, in its new long-range forecast, predicts it will feel like an extended winter for New Jersey and Pennsylvania as cold and snowy conditions will likely stretch into spring 2017.

Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. — particularly in the Northeast — this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.

"I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season," AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.

Unlike last season, in which most of winter's snowfall came from a few heavy-hitting storms, this winter will last into the early or middle part of spring and will feature frequent snow events.

Pastelok said much of the accumulation will be in New Jersey, the Philadelphia metropolitan area and south of Washington, D.C. These areas will see a handful of changeover systems, where falling snow transitions to rain and sleet.

"But still, Boston, Hartford, along the coastal areas up into Connecticut and southern New England, they can still have a fair amount of snow," he said.

Overall, it's predicted that the region will total a below-normal number of subzero days, though the temperature will average 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit lower than last year.

Winter will slowly creep into the Southeast this season, as very mild air hangs on throughout the month of December.
However, the new year will usher in a pattern change as a sudden burst of cold air penetrates the region.

"I am afraid that we have a shot at seeing a damaging freeze in central Florida in mid- to late January this year," Pastelok said.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile, has released its long-range weather predictions for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. If the publication's long-range forecast is accurate, we should expect above-normal temperatures this winter in the central part of the Atlantic Corridor region, which includes New Jersey.

AccuWeather, meanwhile, says a chill could spell disaster for the area's citrus farmers.

Cold air will once again retreat following January and the threat is predicted to shift to severe weather.

"Places like Atlanta, Chattanooga, even up into Roanoke, they could have some severe weather," Pastelok said. "But if the storm track is a little farther east, then you're looking more like Tallahassee to Savannah and, maybe, Charleston."

Things Your Parents Didn't Tell You About Taking Care of Your Home: Winterizing Your Home

10/3/2016 (Permalink)

The excitement of owning your first home can be intense and overwhelming. The opportunity to make each room a reflection of you and your tastes, to fill the rooms with things that are meaningful to your family, and to become a part of your new neighborhood can quickly fill up your first few months in a new home. But after you’ve had a chance to settle in, the weather starts cooling off, and the leaves start turning beautiful colors, you realize there may be things you need to do to prepare your home for the change in seasons.

Winterizing your home is an important, but all too often overlooked, part of maintaining a household. Properly protecting your home against cold weather can help save money, increase your personal comfort, and reduce the chance of expensive problems like burst pipes. Many of these steps you will want to do before freezing weather sets in to head off any problems that the cold weather may cause. The first frost date for your area is a good approximation for the onset of cold weather, and there are several agricultural sites that allow you to look up the average first frost by zip code. Some areas of the U.S. can experience their first frost as early as September, so it’s good to know what to expect for your area.

While many of the steps here are simple and cheap, some can get costly. Luckily, the federal and state governments offer tax credits and weatherization assistance for some purchases. The US Department of Energy has a guide on seeking weatherization assistance from the state, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program has a guide on federal tax credits for energy-efficient purchases. Be sure to check these each year, as guidelines and eligibility requirements can change.

Before the Frost:


Remove dead tree branches: Prune back any dead or damaged tree branches, especially if they overhang your house or parking space. Dead branches are more likely to break and fall in a snow or ice storm, potentially damaging your property and passerby. You should also remove any branches that could damage your home or car if they fell, even if the branch is healthy.
Use caulk and weather-striping: According to the US Department of Energy, having a drafty house can increase your energy bill by as much as 5% to 30%. Caulk and weather-striping are effective methods to seal leaks. Window frames are a frequent source of drafts, as is anywhere that two materials meet (such as around the chimney, in corners, where pipes exit the house, and around the foundation). You can test for leaks manually, by walking around on a chilly night and feeling where cold air gets in, or using the incense test. The incense test involves turning off any fans, lighting a stick of incense, and running it near potential leaks. If the smoke wavers, there’s a breeze, which means air is getting in and out. (Move flammable objects away from where you’ll be testing. Incense doesn’t typically get too hot, but better safe than sorry.)
Prepare to keep out under-door drafts: The space under exterior doors is another major place that drafts can pass through. Make or buy a door snake (or door guard) to keep out the cold. Rolled up towels will do in a pinch, or you can make a cute DIY door snake to help guard your house against the wind. You can also put door snakes on interior doors, if you’re trying to preferentially heat a single room.
Improve insulation: Repairing, installing, or improving your house’s insulation can be one of the most effective ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency. Adding insulation is also one of the easiest home improvement projects to do yourself, and it can add value to your home. Insulation is important between walls, in your attic’s floor, and in your basement’s ceiling. You can also install insulation between floors. How much and what type of insulation you’ll need will vary depending on where you live and what part of the house is being insulated (attics need more insulation than walls or floors). The U.S. Department of Energy has a guide outlining the different qualities of insulation needed for different locations and uses.
Winterize A/C and water lines: This is a step that will typically require a professional to help with, but even with that cost can save you money in the long run. Talk to neighbors about who they use, or contact your local better business bureau for recommendations. You can also usually purchase a cover for your air conditioner that can help to keep out snow and debris. If you have a window A/C unit, you may want to remove it and put it in storage till the spring.
Have a professional check and seal ducts: Your air ducts form a core part of both your central heating and A/C system. Sealing your ducts properly can lead to massive savings in both the winter and summer, since the air will stay cold or hot longer. Properly sealed ducts also reduce incidence of dust and mold in your air. You can hire a professional to come to your house to check and seal your ducts. However, be leery of ‘duct cleaning’ services – most homes don’t need them. Your utility company might offer incentives to improve your ducts.
Insulate pipes: Insulating your pipes will help you save on heating water and can reduce the risk of pipes bursting. Most hardware stores sell pre-slit foam that can be easily wrapped around your pipes. Pay attention to the foam’s R-rating. The R-rating is a measure of how effective the insulation is. Most pipe insulation ranges from R-3 to R-7. Higher R-ratings offer better insulation. You can also insulate your hot water heater.
Install more efficient doors and windows: Modern, energy-efficient glass can raise the value of your home and help you save on both heating and A/C. Make sure any windows you purchase are Energy Star qualified. You can also install storm windows or a storm door over or behind existing, low-efficiency windows and doors. Storm windows are mostly helpful in areas prone to inclement weather and/or temperatures far below freezing.
Buy a window insulation kit: Window insulation kits are a cheaper and easier alternative to installing new windows or storm windows. You can get them for as little as a few dollars. If your area doesn’t get particularly cold in the winter, a window insulation kit might actually be a more cost-effective solution. Larger kits can also be used to insulate sliding glass doors.
Replace worn or missing roof shingles: Holes in your roof can let warm air escape and cold water enter, increasing the risk of frost and water damage and increasing your heating bills. If you’re not comfortable repairing the roof yourself, call a professional.
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned: A blockage in your chimney could trigger a house fire, or redirect smoke down into your house. Get a certified chimney sweep to check your chimney for problems and remove things like animal nests and built up suit. Chimney sweeps start getting busy in the late fall and winter, so it’s best to get your chimney inspected well ahead of the cold season. Fortunately, you only need to get your chimney checked once a year.
Have your furnace inspected: Call an HVAC professional to check your furnace out, to make sure that it’s running efficiently and safely. Damaged or old furnaces can cause massive safety problems, including carbon monoxide buildup, on top of increased energy usage and utility bills. The HVAC professional might also be able to clean and properly adjust your furnace. Many utility companies offer a free annual inspection, and some furnace manufacturers also offer inspections at a discount. HVAC crews get busy once heating season arrives, so a furnace inspection is another thing that it’s best to schedule early.
Change out filters: Check your furnace and air filters before heating season starts, and replace them if the filter looks dirty. Standard, disposable filters should be replaced once a month during heating season. Consider installing a permanent filter instead (they’re also called washable or electrostatic filters). Permanent filters are washed instead of replaced, reducing waste. They trap on average over twice as much debris as a disposable filter. A permanent filter should still be washed once a month and allowed to dry before re-installation.
Stock up ahead of time: Make certain your snow blower and shovel are in good repair, and replace them before it snows if needed. Also stock up on sand or salt for your driveway, along with non-perishables for your pantry, and any other winter supplies. People often wait until it snows to buy a new shovel, fill their pantry, or refill on propane, risking the stores running out. It’s always a good idea to keep at least three days’ to a week’s worth of non-perishable food, water, medicine, hygiene supplies, and other necessities in your house, in case power gets knocked out and you’re unable to reach the store.
During the winter:

Modern Single Family Home In Snow

A few steps should be taken once the cold weather really sets in, to help keep costs down and keep your home warm and cozy.

Check smoke and CO detectors: Ideally, you should check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a week. Find out what type of batteries they need, and make sure to keep a supply on hand so you can change out any depleted batteries. The winter sees an uptick in house fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, so exercise extra caution about both.
Run ceiling fans in reverse: Running the fan during the winter sounds counterintuitive, but it can actually be a big help. During the summer most people set their fans to run in a counterclockwise direction so that air is blown down. But in the winter, it’s recommended that you run your ceiling fans on a low speed in a clockwise direction so that air is drawn upward. This will gently pull air upward, forcing the warmer air on the ceiling back down and balancing a room’s overall temperature.
Make use of natural light and heat: Although the sun’s effects will be less noticeable in the winter, it can still have a warming impact on your home if used effectively. If you can, keep curtains on south-facing windows open during the day to let the sunlight in. Close curtains at night to help keep heat from leeching back out the windows after the sun goes down.
Turn down the thermostat: Especially if you’re not going to be home, consider cranking the thermostat to a lower setting. (You can buy a smart or programmable thermostat if you want the house to be warmed back up before you arrive, but not be wasting heating while you’re away.) Even a few degrees’ difference can result in fairly good savings on heating.
Dress warmly: You know how your parents were always saying “If you’re cold, put on a sweater”? Once you are the one paying the bills, you’ll probably appreciate their wisdom a little more. A warm sweater and slippers can go a long way towards staying comfortable in the winter.
Keep gutters clean: Clean gutters allow water to flow freely, reducing the chance that water will freeze in the gutters. Clogged gutters, on the other hand, worsen problems with icicles and run the risk of being damaged by the ice.