Reduce drafts. Loose fitting windows and doors can be major sources of heat loss in a building. Properly seal them with weatherproofing materials. Adding weather stripping around the edges of doors and windows will help keep heat in.
Check attic insulation. The majority of heat that escapes from a home is through the roof. Proper insulation of at least six inches will help prevent heat loss.
Maintain heating equipment. Properly maintain heating equipment to assure maximum efficiency and reduce the risk of malfunction. Have equipment cleaned and serviced yearly by a qualified individual to ensure safe use.
Clean your chimney. Have your chimney cleaned and checked once a year, preferably before heating season starts. If you have not had your chimney inspected within the last three years, you should have it checked to ensure that there are no blockages.
Protect water meters and pipes from freezing. Pipes and meters can freeze when in unheated areas. Ensure there is proper insulation in the surrounding areas. Turn off water to outside faucets, remove hoses and drain the pipes.
Use proper precautions when thawing pipes and meters. If pipes and meters freeze, thaw them carefully. Do not use a flame, which could ignite a fire or cause a steam explosion. Open a faucet near the frozen area to release vapors from melting ice.
Prevent snow and water accumulation. Snow and rain that collect on roofs can cause a leak or compromise a building's structural integrity if the accumulated weight becomes too great. Remove snow from roofs and drains regularly. Clean gutters and roof drains to prevent clogs.
Check contractor qualifications. Make sure that individuals inspecting a boiler or chimney have the proper qualification from the Department of Buildings and Department of Consumer Affairs. Make sure your heating oil company has had its delivery truck inspected by the Department of Consumer Affairs to check for faulty meters.
Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Change the batteries of these devices twice a year – when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.
Avoid fire hazards. Keep space heaters away from draperies, linens, and all flammable materials. Do not let candles burn low, and do not place them near children.
Check all outdoor structures, including decks, porches, facades, and balconies. Check for stability. Examine railings, guardrails, concrete, support beams, anchors, nails, and screws for loose, rotting, missing, or damaged pieces and notice any leaning or unsteadiness. Note any water saturation or pest infestation, such as termites or carpenter ants, and check for cracks, cracked or chipped masonry, or rusted metal connections.
Make sure pools are in good condition. Pools should be watertight and have no cracks or joints. All pools must be enclosed by a four-foot high fence that has a childproof, self-closing gate. No overhead electrical conductors should be within 15 feet of the pool.
Check air-conditioning units. Proper maintenance of an air-conditioning unit is important to maximize efficiency and ensure safe operation. Periodically check the position of the unit to make sure it is secure and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Examine the window and frame to ensure it can continue to support the unit safely. Before using the unit, check the filter and coils to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced.
Inspect windows and doors for drafts. Check your home's insulation to prevent unnecessary drafts and conserve energy. To help reduce the loss of energy, install weather-stripping and weatherproofing materials around the edges of all windows and doors. Set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees and turn off units when the room is not being used. Even a one-degree change in your thermostat can cut energy costs.
Hire a licensed professional. Freeze-and-thaw weather cycles deteriorate homes and outdoor structures. If any structures require maintenance, consult with a licensed professional who can perform a full assessment and offer advice about repairs. If you hire a contractor, confirm that the individual has a Home Improvement Contractor license from the City's Department of Consumer Affairs.