Winter is coming (and we’re not talking about the Starks). As the temperatures drop, you might want nothing more than to barricade yourself in your home by a nice cozy fireplace with a hot cup of cocoa. But before you get too comfortable, you need to make sure your house is prepared for the cold air, snow, sleet, and blizzards. Taking the time to keep your family warm (while keeping energy bills low) can feel like a big task. All the same, it’s important to be proactive to prevent expensive home maintenance repairs, cold air leaks, and lower your heating costs. How can you prepare your home for winter? Take a few seconds and review our tips below!
10. Turn off exterior faucets.
If you’re lucky, you’ve never experienced the damage a burst pipe can cause. You can prevent damage to your exterior walls and your home’s foundation with a bit of preparation. Turn off your faucets to avoid frozen pipes, pad your pipes to prevent flooding, and remove your garden hoses. Ensure your outdoor water sprinkler system is prepped and turned off, too!
9. Insulate your water pipes.
Your hot water heater can use a lot of energy, so don’t let it go to waste! Water and vent pipes that aren’t insulated transfer heat very quickly, which means it takes more energy to heat your water to your liking. Insulate pipes by wrapping them up to slow heat transfer while your hot water tank does its magic. This is a great way to save money on your energy bill.
8. Tune up your heating and air conditioning system.
You may not think about your heating system year-round, but it’s worth the extra effort to get a thorough inspection before there’s a problem. If something breaks during the winter, there will be a long line of people who want their heating systems fixed, which means your heated air will disappear and leave you in the cold. This is an excellent opportunity to replace your air filter as well!
7. Keep warm air in and cold air out by caulking.
Don’t give hot air any space to escape your home. Fall is the perfect time to seal up any leaks in windows and doors. Are you the DIY type? This is a relatively easy home maintenance project to do on your own, or you can enlist the help of a professional. Get your door frames and windows sealed before your next winter storm to prevent cold drafts.
You can also add a door sweep to exterior doors to seal things up even more. Most hardware stores sell them, and they’re a breeze to install. (See what we did there?!)
Bonus: if you are active duty or retired military, your hardware store may offer a price break on purchases, so be sure to ask.
6. Check the roof and crawl spaces.
Do you have leaks you’ve been meaning to fix? Now is the time. Get up close and personal with your roof, and be sure to replace any shingles that are damaged or missing. A leak during the winter can quickly cause lots of damage and heat loss, leading to expensive repairs. Don’t forget to get down low in your crawl space to seal gaps and ensure you have proper insulation.
5. Clean your gutters.
You should keep your gutters clean year-round, but they are especially important in winter. Gutters are there to move debris off your roof and prevent damage, so they must be free to do their job. A clogged gutter can contribute to ice dams. While we’re on the subject…
4. Prevent ice dams.
This winter hazard occurs when snow on your roof starts to melt and refreezes. It gets trapped in your walls and can create a lot of damage. The best way to prevent ice melt damage is by giving your attic some extra attention. Make sure it is properly ventilated and insulated. An attic that traps heat is an ice dam waiting to happen.
3. Insulate your walls and attics against air leaks.
Insulation is the most important thing standing between your family and the unforgiving cold of the outdoors. It keeps the cold air out and prevents energy leaks. Don’t spend money heating the air in your home if it’ll only escape through walls that are improperly insulated. It’s even more important to remember that heat rises; an attic that isn’t insulated properly will allow all that expensive warm air outside. Fall is the perfect time to update that insulation. After all, you’re not paying to heat the whole neighborhood.
2. Prep your fireplace for cold weather.
Your fireplace can be a massive area of energy loss if it isn’t prepared for the winter months, and it can be a fire hazard if it isn’t cleaned properly. Take a flashlight, get on your knees, and look inside for any build-up, bird’s nests, or obvious cracks. Check outside for broken bricks or mortar. Check the fireplace damper; does the fireplace feel cold even when the damper is closed? It may be a sign that it’s warped or rusted. Clean out the ash often, and remember to have a professional chimney sweep clean your fireplace every other year. This can also help prevent any fire hazards associated with your fireplace.
If you use your fireplace often, make sure your smoke alarms work correctly and have fresh batteries. While you’re at it, put new batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors, too.
And Our Number One Tip for Home Preparation for Winter…
1. Get a home energy audit.
The best way to make sure your home is prepared for anything the seasons can throw at it is to have it thoroughly inspected for areas of energy loss or other problems. Don’t wait for the cold of winter to set in; assessing your home’s needs in the fall gives you plenty of time to address them. You’ll have your coziest New England winter yet, and you’ll spend less on energy costs.
Once you get the Big 10 out of the way, here are some other things you can do to prep your home for winter:
- Put your patio furniture away in a garage or shed so it isn’t exposed to harsh winter weather that will put wear and tear on your expensive outdoor furniture.
- If you have a snow blower, test it out to make sure it’s working properly BEFORE that first big snow. While you’re at it, check to make sure you have other seasonal tools like ice scrapers and snow shovels readily available.
- Make sure you have rock salt (also called driveway salt) available to prevent falls when an ice storm hits.
- Since you won’t be using your lawn mower for quite a while, drain the fuel out while it won’t be in use.
- Switch your fan blades to turn in a clockwise position during the winter. Turn them on at a slow speed to push the warm air back down towards you.
- Make sure your flower beds are free from leaves and debris before snow sets in. This will set your perennial plants up for proper spring growth when the seasons change.
Is your home ready for winter? The cold weather will be here before you know it. Take your winter home preparation seriously and save yourself headaches that come with costly repairs. Need a little extra help? Contact Energy Monster for an insulation consultation. We’ll assess your home’s insulation and help you address any areas of concern so you can go into the winter worry-free.