Now that we’ve set the clocks back one hour and the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to think about winterizing our home. Not only for comfort but for energy efficiency. That said, we’ve put together the top 8 things you can do to get your home ready for winter.
- Check your HVAC system
Not only will you want to replace your air filter with a new one, but your actual unit also needs to be inspected. The typical heating and air system last between 12 to 15 however units can last longer if they’re properly maintained. Hire a reputable HVAC contractor for an inspection now, before the weather turns worse. You’ll be in a better position to call them back in an emergency if you’re an established customer. And oftentimes, a simple cleaning is all that is needed.
- Caulk, Seal, and Paint
Walk around both the interior and exterior of your home—all levels including the basement if you have one—to look for worn or missing caulk and/or insulating strips around windows and doors. The best time of day to do this is during the day when the sun is out. Depending on where the sun is hitting your home, you may be able to see light in the gaps between doors and windows. You can also use a lighter to see if the flame moves when passed in front of a gap. Once you’ve identified the gaps, seal them with insulation or caulk, painting if necessary.
- Prep the Plumbing
If your water heater is in an unfinished part of your home such as the basement, consider installing an insulation jacket that completely covers the outside of your tank. Doing so can reduce heat loss, improve efficiency, and save you money on your energy bill. And they’re easy to install!
You’ll also want to drain the water from outside faucets and hoses. Store hoses inside a utility shed or basement to keep them from cracking over winter. Cover all spigots with an insulated cover—most are made from styrofoam—to keep them from freezing. Like the water heater insulation jackets, these are also very easy to install and can be found at most home improvement stores.
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Did you know that depending on the direction set on your fan, the air pushes either upward or downward? Why is this important? Since hot air rises, heat tends to settle toward the ceiling of the room. Reversing the direction of the blades to spin in a clockwise direction will cause an updraft and push down the air. This can be especially helpful if you have any rooms with high ceilings.
- Swap Out Your Thermostat to a Programmable Unit
If you work away from home, keeping the temperature at a comfortable level all day isn’t very energy efficient. Installing a programmable unit will allow you to fluctuate the temperature according to your schedule. Smart units such as the Nest Thermostat allow you to control it at home or on the go by way of their app. So, say you have it already set to increase the temperature before you arrive home from work, but you learn you must work late. You can adjust the timing right on your mobile device. Now that’s what you call creature comforts!
- Bring Inside Any Concrete or Clay-Based Pots
Certain types of garden containers do not bode well during the fluctuating temperatures of winter. Colder nights and warmer days cause things to contract and expand which can crack pottery and concrete pots. It’s also a good idea to bring inside any delicate plants that may not survive the harsh cold temperatures.
- Gather Up Ice Scrapers, Shovels, and Salt
There’s nothing worse than heading out the door only to find out the driveway is impassable, but your shovel is in the backyard shed. Dedicate a location for winter weather tools so that they’re on-hand when needed. This includes flashlights with fresh batteries, candles and matches should the power go out.
- Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Statistically, most house fires occur during the winter months as there is an increased usage of space heaters, gas-powered heating, and fireplaces. And with the doors and windows closed, carbon monoxide can be a bigger hazard. Most detector units have a test button you can push to ensure the unit is working properly. You’ll also want to check to see that the batteries are fresh. If in doubt, throw them out. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
With a few checks and changes, a more comfortable, cost-effective winter is right around the corner. All while maintaining your home, prolonging the life of your home’s systems, and keeping or even increasing the value of your home.