October is National Energy Awareness Month, a good time to give your home an energy-minded checkup before the cold months ahead.
Among the most likely places where your house may be leaking energy and money are windows and sliding-glass doors.
"Virtually every building component in a home needs to be replaced at some point, and windows are no exception," said Gary Pember of Simonton Windows. "We'd like to think that our roof, siding and windows will last forever, but they won't.
"Marking your calendar each October to routinely check your windows and patio doors helps ensure they are performing the way they were designed to perform," he added. "These checks also help determine when it's time to consider a window-replacement project that can offer you long-term energy savings especially if you live in an older home."
Pember suggested these tips for homeowners on how to do a window and door checkup:
Examine the inside of your windows and patio doors for hot and cold "drafty" spots or areas. This indicates "air infiltration" air leaking in from outside that can lead to reduced energy efficiency.
Check every window and door to make sure there is adequate weatherstripping and caulking around each. This helps eliminate air infiltration and ensures a weather-tight, secure seal.
Look for "burnt out" or faded areas on your furnishings and carpeting. This could indicate that damaging UV rays are entering your home through your windows or doors. Consider replacement with more energy-efficient units containing "Low-E" coatings on the glass.
If your windows no longer open or close easily or if they need to be propped open it could mean key components within the units are damaged or need adjustment. Or the whole unit may need to be replaced.
Check the fit of your windows or patio doors. This takes two people. At night, one person stands outside the window or door. The other stays inside and, with a small flashlight, traces around the edge of the unit with light. If the person outside sees light coming through the window or door edges, this indicates poor fit or installation and energy loss.
For more tips on windows and energy savings, click on www.efficientwindows.org.
The U.S. Department of Energy has compiled tips for consumers considering window replacements as well as more ways to save at www.energysavers.gov. Also check out the five-minute Energy Yardstick, a way to assess your home energy use, at www.energystar.gov.
Plant daffodils and other spring bulbs. Plant some each week for the next three weeks to spread out your spring bloom.
Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.
Apply mulch to summer-blooming bulbs and tubers left in the ground.
Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves yellow between the veins.
Remove water basins from shrubs and pots before the rainy days ahead. That way, your potted plants won't get cold, soggy feet.
In the vegetable garden, plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas. Plant garlic and onions. Transplant lettuce seedlings.
Watch out for snails and hand-pick them.
Fertilize indoor plants. This will help boost winter bloomers. With colder days ahead, you'll spend more time inside prime time to enjoy your indoor garden.
- Debbie Arrington