Winter is coming, whether you like it to or not. You will need to get mentally prepared for it, but you also need to get your home ready. A few chores now can prevent major issues in the dead of winter — when it’s the worst possible time to deal with them.
There are some things that require a professional, but most winterization duties can be DIY, saving you a bundle. The best part? Many of these tricks can save you even more in your heating bills.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Change your furnace filters. You should be doing this every month. This helps your furnace run more efficiently and adds years to the life of your heating unit.
- Remove window air conditioners and stow them away. Leaving them in the window can create drafts.
- Switch the direction of your ceiling fans. Making them turn clockwise helps warm up your room, whereas counterclockwise keeps you cool. It can also lower your heating costs by up to 10 percent.
- Even in warmer climates, you’ll likely have to close your pool for the winter. When you do, make sure you get a good pool cover to protect it from dirt and debris, saving you a lot of work in the spring.
- Avoid drafts. Use draft guards or “draft snakes” at the bottoms of your doors to keep out drafts. You can also roll up a towel or you can make your own.
- Get a furnace tune-up. Many electric utilities will give you a free check-up, or you can call a heating and air-conditioning specialist. They will be able to identify parts that aren’t working or may be in danger of malfunction. It’s better to find out now before the temperatures drop.
- Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors. You can also use a window insulation kit to provide even more protection from drafts.
- Add some insulation. If you’re losing a lot of heat through your attic, adding more insulation can save you a bundle. One way to tell if you need it: When it snows, take a look at your roof. If the snow melts off of your roof faster than the homes around it, that means your attic isn’t keeping the heat in your house. Blow-in insulation is cheap and fairly easy to do yourself, and the difference in the warmth of your home is significant. Wear gloves and cover your nose and eyes. Even if you use the non-toxic type of insulation made of recycled newspapers, the dust gets everywhere.
- Clean your gutters. Keeping debris out of the gutters will save your home’s foundation and roof. You can do it yourself, but it’s dangerous to be up on the ladder. Consider hiring someone to do it for you.
- Flush your water heater. Drain your water heater and clean out the debris that builds up in the bottom. This makes it more efficient.
- Protect your pipes. If you have pipes that are in unheated areas, make sure they’re insulated. If exposed, your pipes could be at risk for freezing. Frozen pipes often burst, causing a major headache and a hefty plumbing bill.
It might seem like a long list, but these simple chores can make a huge difference in your peace of mind this winter. Having a slightly lower heating bill will make you feel pretty good, too.