Waiting until Jack Frost nips at your nose can create challenges. Try our top home-winterization tips and ideas to prevent major winter blues:
- Furnace First: Don't wait 'til it's too frosty to resist turning on the heat. Before flipping any switch, schedule an annual furnace checkup. Dirty filters restrict airflow, increase energy demand, and can raise your heating costs. Plus, dirty or leaky ducts can cause safety issues, and no one wants that.
- Chimney Checkup: No chimney sweep will be as charming as Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins', but you still may want to give one a call before lighting a fire. Improperly maintained wood-burning fireplaces pose a risk; removing soot and fixing any damage is prudent. And if you can't remember the last time someone inspected your gas fireplace, change that by calling a professional.
- Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of heating equipment such as fireplaces, space units, furnaces, and water heaters. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) cites heating equipment as the second most common cause of home fire fatalities; early smoke detection minimizes the risk of becoming a statistic. There is no better time to test and change the batteries of your home's smoke/CO detectors. No detectors? Buy and install some, stat!
- Flip It and Reverse It: Ceiling fans are dual purpose because they can deliver a refreshing breeze or disperse heat. Check your fans to ensure they are oscillating in the right direction (counterclockwise to cool, clockwise for warmth) based on your needs.
- Be a Draft Dodger: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts and leaks cost homeowners $200 to $400 extra on annual heating expenses. Caulking, weatherstripping, hanging plastic tarps, and placing rolled towels around doors and window frames can help keep out the cold.
- Wrap and Seal: Insulating your home now can prevent cold toes later. In addition to checking your attic, consider insulating your water pipes. Insulating exposed or exterior wall pipes can minimize the odds of frozen pipes and their associated damage.
- Water Wise: In cold climates, frozen pipes can create emergency situations that are expensive to remedy. Shutting off your connected outdoor water supply and draining standing water (think A/C units, rain barrels, and garden hoses) can prevent chaos. If you are closing your pool or spa for the season, remove and store all accessories, and drain water from the heaters, pumps, and filters. Remove any debris, check the PH and chemical levels, follow up with chlorine, use a pool cover, and batten down the hatches.
- Trim Your Limbs: Since winter storms are unpredictable, one lighting strike or gust of wind can cause significant damage. Survey the trees on your property and after spotting dead limbs or overhanging branches, have them removed.
- Declutter Your Gutter: Prevent clogged drains, floods, and wood rot by removing and flushing leaves and debris from rain gutters. Standing water is a homeowner’s nemesis; preparation can help you beat that opponent.
- Sweater Weather: If you think wearing a sweater has nothing to do with winterizing your home, think again. Heating your home costs money while layering your outfit is a pennywise way to stay warm. Before draping yourself, mend any holes, stains, and unsavory scents on your garment. Once fixed, hang your favorite piece in a convenient spot and use it!
Jane D. Matthews is a writer-for-hire living in the heart of Hollywood. She has created content for dozens of websites, worked as a ghostwriter, and contributed her words to a published NYC shopping guide. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, vegetarian cooking, decorating, advising, and laughing until it hurts.