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StatePoint - The weather these days seems to be more volatile than ever, swinging from record-setting heat waves to deep freezes, seemingly from one day to the next.
With the weather more varied and unpredictable, homeowners nationwide have learned lessons from the past year and are taking steps to ensure their houses can efficiently withstand whatever Mother Nature dishes out.
It is all about keeping homes sealed tightly, so water and wind can not leak in and tempered air does not leak out -- causing heating and cooling bills to rise.
Beware of Foundation Cracks
Water is the enemy of your home's foundation. A change in moisture content of the soil around your home allows water to put pressure on the foundation, causing cracks and leaks.
Dry weather can cause the soil to shrink, while wet periods can cause it to soften. Poor drainage from your roof or improper ground slope around your home can funnel water against the foundation.
Make sure gutters are clean and that downspouts extend away from your home. Check that the soil, grass or pavement properly slopes away from your foundation.
Upgrading a home's insulation is an effective, easy way to increase energy efficiency while decreasing heating costs. The attic is a great start, but to achieve maximum efficiencies, do not overlook areas, such as basements and rim joists.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates homeowners could save an average of at least $250 yearly in heating costs by insulating basement walls. And by insulating crawl spaces and rim joists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates homeowners can save up to 20 percent on energy bills.
Before undertaking a home insulation project, do-it-yourselfers can see www.diywithroxul.com, to view free "how-to" videos detailing different insulation projects.
Inspect Your Roof
Nothing can ruin a home faster than a leaky roof. Once yearly, check for signs of damage, such as sagging, aging, cracking, curling, tears or missing shingles. Pay particular attention to areas obscured by shade or vegetation.
Replace shingles that are lifting up or that have rot or heavy moss. Also inspect gutters, vents, overhangs and flashing. Repairs should be made as soon as you see a small problem, before it becomes a larger one.
Don't attempt to climb a roof that is steeply sloped. Instead, turn to a professional roofer or home inspector.