Run an energy-efficiency check during winter months

Winter could be a very good time to check out a house that you are considering buying. A home's energy efficiency, says Home Magazine, can be assessed more easily during the cold months.

Hints to potential buyers:

Pay special attention to the condition of the windows and doors, and note variations of temperature levels throughout the house.

You can ascertain the presence of leaks around windows and doors by placing a hand near the edges of the frames. The movement of cold air may indicate that additional caulking or weatherstripping is required.

If storm windows are already in place and you still feel cold air, either the installation work is defective or the units need to be recaulked. Heavy frost or ice on the interior panes is a sure sign that the storm windows need to be repaired, replaced, or installed.

A breeze coming at the level of electrical outlets might mean that the house needs insulation or is not properly sealed.

Beware of a house in which the upstairs rooms are cold even if the living area below feels comfortable. The furnace may be inadequate.

Ask to see the utility bills for the last three or four years to gain some idea of the true heating and cooling costs.

Check the age of major appliances, since older models are often less energy efficient than newer ones.

On the exterior of the house, icicles hanging from gutters may be innocuous, but they can also indicate that water is freezing, backing up underneath the shingles, and leaking into the house. -

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