It might already feel like we’re in the midst of cold weather, winter doesn’t officially begin until December 25th – and the real doldrums of winter are yet to come. The good news is we’ve still got some time to prepare our houses for the worst of the worst – and we should. This season could take a big toll on your home’s safety and comfort.
Today, let’s talk about how you can protect and optimize your house for the cold. With these tips, you can save time, money, and energy in the coming months.
Step 1: Seal Up Your Walls and Windows
One of the biggest downsides of winter is the high energy bill many of us face. Every time you crank your heat to stay nice and cozy inside, your utility cost goes up. This is especially true if your windows and/or walls are leaking air.
Reducing small drafts in your home can significantly reduce your energy expenses. In fact, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy estimates that up to $400 of annual energy payments go toward draft waste. If you want to save money, and feel more comfortable within your own house, you need to seal those walls, windows, and ducts up tightly.
The most common areas for air leaks are:
- Plumbing vents
- Dryer vents
- Areas around cable TVs and phone lines
- Door frames
- Electrical and gas service entrances
- Electrical outlets
- Window frames
Don’t forget to check for leaks in the basement. Hot air can escape (and cold air can leak in) from any worn doorways, windows, and other entry points. You can either apply exterior caulk to the outdoor holes or apply something like window-glazing putty to seal cracks in windows.
Step 2. Inspect and Repair Your Heating System
The next step involves your actual heating system. When was the last time you had a professional assess the quality and safety of your heater? We highly recommend contacting an HVAC company within the next few weeks – before you find yourself waking up to a freezing house and a broken unit.
A professional HVAC inspection will also ensure that your heating system is safe for your family. The experts will assess your carbon-monoxide leakage and work to improve your indoor air quality. We’ll all be spending quite a bit of time inside during this winter – take the time to ensure everyone breathes fresh, clean air.
Step 3. Trim Back Overgrown Foliage
Let’s step outside and assess your house. Are you looking at overgrown trees or bushes? That foliage can pose a threat to your home’s safety. Overhanging limbs often lead excess water to seep into your roof’s cracks, which can then compromise its integrity over time. Additionally, blizzards and heavy snow could cause trees and bushes to crash into parts of the building.
Trim back the overgrown areas. Avoid pruning trees before they’re at least two years old, but if they’re older and healthy, cut off the long branches and overgrowths. Leave around ⅔ of the branches untouched – only deal with the third that’s most dangerous.
Step 4. Clean Out Your Gutters
If the last time you cleaned your gutters was more than a month or two ago, you’ve got another chore on your list. Clogged rain gutters/downspouts cause water to leak into your home’s foundation. This can also result in ice dams – which are extremely expensive to deal with.
After any leaves fall, remove them along with other debris like twigs and animal refuse. Watch for problems like sagging gutters or areas of trapped water. If you notice these, address them immediately or call in an expert to do so. You should also replace any materials that look too old to work properly.
Another problem that comes with clogged gutters? They put a weight strain on your roof and the boards supporting the gutters. In a worst-case scenario, the weight strain could cause your roof to collapse – especially with the added weight of snow and ice.
Step 5. Have Your Roof Inspected
When’s the worst time to find out your roof has a leak? Probably when the first snow hits, then begins to thaw, leaking ice and water into your house. A proactive roof inspection will help you spot problems before they cause further damage, especially during the winter.
A full-fledged roof inspection will look for buckled or missing shingles, as well as cracks, moss growth, lichen, rust, animal debris, and more. If you wait until after the winter to schedule your roof inspection, you’ll likely pay more for extensive repairs and suffer more damage. Take the smart route and ensure your roof will safely make it through the winter now.
The changing of seasons wears our homes down, but the more we prepare, the less damage we’ll see. If you get heavy snowfall or freezing temperatures in your area, it’s time to truly winterize your house. Take a single weekend to knock out the steps listed above. You’ll thank yourself later – once winter is in full force.
Follow HomeInside for more articles.