Monday, October 18, 2021
Oct. 18, 2021

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Energy Adviser: Fall is time for home inspection, maintenance


Cooler mornings, football on TV, the return of pumpkin spice lattes — the signs are everywhere: Fall is fast approaching and winter isn’t far behind.

Is your home ready?

Most of us like to believe we’ll notice when something’s not right with the home. After all, we’re there just about every single day. But upon a closer inspection, especially by a seasoned pair of eyes, you may be surprised by the underlying issues lingering around your property.

Higher than normal utility bills are often a sign that something’s wrong, but they’re not always obvious indicators. Troubles often creep up slowly and bills gradually rise over time — just enough to escape detection and before long a household is paying a good amount more than it should be.

The same is true for your personal comfort. Maybe parts of your house feel particularly drafty or your feet get especially cold in one room or another. It’s easy to blame the weather, but it may be something home related.

You won’t know until you look.

That’s why it’s smart to do a home heating system and weatherization inspection, maintenance and maybe a few improvements before the frost comes.

Start by changing the filter on your central air system. Like your car, the system runs best when it can breathe easily. The same is true for the people living inside. A fresh furnace filter will lead to cleaner indoor air, which will directly benefit anyone with respiratory issues. Choose a filter with a high MERV rating, but consult your furnace manual to make sure you select the proper replacement.

While you’re on the HVAC system, check your thermostat. If you’ve been running air conditioning, you’ll have to switch over to heating mode before the furnace will work. If you haven’t programmed it already, now’s a great time to do it.

Programming a thermostat or upgrading to a smart thermostat will automate your home heating schedule and can save energy. Set yours to peak when the home is occupied and run at lower temperatures when the home is empty or everyone is asleep.

If your home uses zonal heaters — think baseboard or wall heaters — give them a good cleaning. The dust that inevitably builds up will lower their efficiency.

Check the weather-stripping around your doors and the thresholds at the bottom. If you can see daylight or if the stripping is cracked or flattened, it’s time to replace it. Fortunately, that process is cheap and only takes a few minutes.

Also, go outside and look at the caulk around the windows. If it’s cracked, scrape it out and apply a fresh layer. You don’t have to be a journeymen carpenter to do it, but you may feel like one when you’re finished.

If you’re feeling like you’re in over your head or you don’t have the time for DIY, call a professional to do the work.

It’s a good idea to have your furnace or heat pump serviced at least once a year by a professional who will correct even the subtle issues to ensure you get the most out of every heating dollar.

Weatherization experts can also find and address the many comfort-sapping air leaks that make a home feel drafty. Not only can they seal those leaks, but they can improve your insulation, seal your ducts (if you have them) and talk to you about windows and door replacements.

Clark Public Utilities has many money-saving rebates, incentives and low-interest loans to help people in all financial positions live more comfortably while using less energy in their electrically heated homes. Whether you want to seal your home tighter, insulate it further or upgrade your heating system to a high-efficiency heat pump or ductless heat pump, the utility is there to help.

For information, contact the Energy Counselor of the Day at or call 360-992-3355 during business hours. If you’d like to look at options, visit the rebates and loans page on our website.

Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email or visit