When it comes to getting ready for winter, it’s important to think beyond purchasing that fashionable-yet-cold-resistant jacket and putting snow tires on the car: A few small changes around your house won’t only help ensure you stay warm during those frigid days and nights, but could save you money in the long run as well.
Poor insulation, out-of-date heating and leaky plumbing can all cost an arm and a leg when they get out of hand. These precautions you can make sure the winter doesn't take too much toll on your home (or your wallet).
1. Help with heating
Here’s how to ensure you’re nice and toasty and properly prepared to avoid cash-devouring major maintenance needs. (Saving a little cash along the way is a nice added bonus, too!)
- Curb insulation issues: Drafty doors and windows can be a major source of heat loss and energy bill increases during cold weather, so ensure yours are properly insulated. For windows, replacing old weatherstripping is a pretty easy DIY project or you can invest in some thermal curtains. Consider installing new insulation panels around doors and drafty attic entries.
- Have your heater checked: Regular furnace maintenance will help lower your energy bills and increase the lifespan of your heater. Remember to regularly replace filters, as well.
- Flick on that fan: If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the blades in a clockwise direction after you turn your heat on to help with circulation.
- Check out the chimney: Have a professional inspect and/or clean your chimney before the first use to avoid any potential fire hazards.
- Go easy on the water heater: Consider lowering your water heater by a couple of degrees during the winter months when you’re likely blasting the regular heat in your home, anyway. Turning it down just a couple degrees could shave a couple bucks off your water heating costs each month.
- The thermostat is your ally: Remember to lower the heat when you’re leaving the house or going to bed at night. Turning the heat down when you don’t need it running full steam ahead is one of the best ways to shave down energy bills during the winter. If you can afford to, invest in a modern thermostat that allows you to set schedules and monitor and/or turn it on and off directly from your phone.
2. Prep your plumbing
Frozen pipes can be a major inconvenience during the winter. Avoid expensive, last minute plumbing issues with a little DIY maintenance.
- Take care of outside water sources: Outdoor faucets are in danger of freezing and bursting. If you haven’t already, cut off the supply to anything water-related that runs outside and bring all your hoses indoors for the season.
- Protect your pipes: Water pipes exposed to cold temperatures can crack, so use heat tape to help regulate the temperature around plastic or metal pipes.
3. Tend to your outdoor needs
While majority of your outdoor prep will likely have been done before winter hits—blowing out your sprinkler system, say, or cleaning out your gutters—it’s important you remain vigilant after the cold weather arrives as well.
- Fasten and secure where needed: Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they’re properly fastened and re-secure loose or sagging parts. Heavy snow and ice can actually pull gutters off the house if they aren’t properly secure. While you’re at it, make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least five feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
- Cover yourself: All vents and outside openings should be covered to prevent insects, birds, or rodents from crawling inside and creating a nice little warm nest.
Don’t let a busted pipe, drafty window, or broken furnace keep you from cuddling up in your cozy home this winter. If you take a little time to plan and prepare for the shorter days and frosty temps, you’ll arrive in spring with your peace of mind and budget intact.