Even though the first snow and hard freeze are behind us, there are steps you can take to protect your home in the coming months. Take the few extra steps this winter to help your home function at its best. Winterizing your home is the best way to prepare for the cold temperatures ahead. Doing some of these simple things may also remove some items from a home inspectors report should you decide to put your home on the market. At the very least it could save you some money. The list includes but is not limited to:
Trim your trees. When tree branches are weighed down with snow, they can cause significant damage. Are there any limbs that could possibly knock out power to your home or limbs that could hit your home or car if they broke off during a winter snow storm? Will limbs rub on your roof or siding when they have a snow load?
Over time, your door’s weather stripping can become damaged from the elements. This creates unwelcome drafts of cold. Check your doors and windows for leaks. Walk around your home on a chilly night and, using bare hands and feet, feel around your doors, windows, lights and switch plates for cold air. You will need to either add insulation to these areas, or seal them using weather-stripping, caulk or spray foam.
Clean your gutters. Clean gutters can help prevent the build-up of ice on your roof. The faster that water can drain away, the less likely it is to melt and then refreeze on your roof or under your shingles. In addition, clean gutters reduce the risk of pest infestation and decrease the risk of mold in your home. If you find any damage to your gutters or downspouts have it repaired as soon as possible.
Have your ceiling fans push warm air down from the ceiling. It is common practice to use ceiling fans in summer months, but they can help in the winter as well. Have your ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction so they push hot air from the ceiling towards the floor. If they are going counterclockwise, they will not be as effective.
During winter months, the last thing you want is an inefficient furnace. Before the winter begins, make sure you inspect your HVAC system to ensure it is working properly. It is also a good time to change your furnace filter. If you’re wondering how often you should change your furnace filter, the EPA recommends every month during winter, as a dirty filter can slow down your HVAC’s efficiency to warm your home. Before you start running your furnace, change the filter. In winter months, change the filter every four to six weeks. Having a clean filter helps your furnace run more efficiently, which can save you energy and money.
Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that you can save as much as one percent on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature during winter months. Installing a programmable thermostat can save you money by keeping the temperature down when you’re not at home or asleep.
Flush your water heater. Particles and sediment can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit’s efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater functioning at its best.
Your lawn will thank you in the spring if you take the time to prepare it for the cold weather ahead. Blow out your sprinkler system (this should have been done already) . Rake all your leaves, ideally before the first snow. Once you have cut your lawn for the last time, you will want to make sure your lawn mower is also ready for the cold ahead. Do not leave gas sitting in the lawn mower over the winter. A fuel stabilizer will help keep your gas ready for spring if you have not run out yet. Clean off your lawn mower and remove the battery if applicable.
You can have a warm and cozy home this winter, it just takes a few steps to give you complete peace of mind. Taking care of these simple tasks can also help you reduce the number of items on a home inspectors list, prevent damage to your home and save money on utility bills. Prepare for winter now, and you will be glad you did when even colder weather arrives.