Dirty furnace filters should be cleaned or replaced to ensure that the furnace operates as efficiently as possible. This will also help combat indoor allergies as well as conserve energy.
If your thermostat and smoke detectors are battery operated, you should test their batteries. According to Oakley Building Official Brent Smith, “Most people see their smoke detectors as an irritant when it comes to changing the batteries; however, if you ever have a fire, you’ll certainly be glad you took the five minutes to change them.” Inspecting doors and windows for minor air leaks is also an easy preventive measure. “People would also be surprised how much energy is lost by lack of maintenance when their door gaskets wear out and become less effective,” Smith said. Weather stripping for doors is an inexpensive investment of time and money that will make your house more energy efficient and comfortable.
If you have a fireplace, make sure the chimney is clear of obstructions inside and out and that your damper is in the open position prior to lighting a fire. Start by walking around the exterior of your house. “Inspecting rain gutters and downspouts to make sure they’re clean and unobstructed from debris is important,” said Smith, “even if you do not have many trees around your house or they’re small, less matured trees. You’ll be surprised at how much dust will settle in the gutters.”
Inspect the roof for broken shingles or tiles. This is also an ideal time to adjust automatic sprinklers so that you’re not overwatering in the winter months. “Considering we had a drought emergency declared by the governor,” said Smith, “it’s important to conserve water in the winter months as well.”
If this is the year you upgrade that old, inefficient furnace to a newer, high-efficiency unit, the City of Oakley has reduced permit fees by 50 percent for energy-saving devices and appliances such as skylights, high-efficiency water heaters and furnaces. If you do find some problems beyond what you’re comfortable fixing, be sure to hire a licensed contractor. “I always recommend that people get at least three to five bids and actively check references,” Smith said.
For information regarding what repair work needs a permit and what is exempt, call the Oakley Building Division at 925-625-7005 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For tips on hiring a licensed contractor, go to the Contractors State License Board homepage, < ahref="http://www.cslb.ca.gov">www.cslb.ca.gov.