Winterize Your Home
So, you just bought a home. Temperatures are dropping. There may even be the first hint of frost and snow. Winter is coming! Don’t let it wreak havoc on your castle. As a homeowner it’s important to know how to manage and protect your home—especially if you live in a region with frigid temps, sleet, snow, and ice. Every home benefits from a little cold weather TLC—even new ones! And with COVID-19 keeping more of us indoors, it might as well be safe, comfy and cozy. Our checklist will help ensure you winterize your home against the Old Man Winter so you and yours can enjoy the perks winter brings instead.
Winter Home Checklist
- Clean your gutters. In late fall, when the last leaves have fallen, clear your gutters of the leaves and debris. Position downspouts AWAY from your foundation and install splash blocks, if possible, to divert freezing rain, thawing ice and melting snow. Cost: minimal. A luxury spend may be to invest in gutter guards.
- A Good Trim. Trim any low hanging branches away from the roof and siding. Wet snow can be heavy and may snap branches. Cost: FREE-$
- Check your windows. Loose weather stripping and chipping glaze can create air gaps that allow the cold weather to penetrate your home, creating a draughty environment. Self-stick weather stripping or a window insulation kit can help eliminate the cold. Cost: $. For an upgrade, invest in storm windows or a good set of heavy lined drapes to block the cold. Cost: $-$$
- Storm and sweeps. A good storm door protects your entry door from the elements and preserves the paint and color. It also helps to keep the cold out and the heat in saving you some coin. Cost: $$. Door sweeps are an alternative and can be installed at the base of your door to help seal it to the floor. Cost: $.
- Protect your pipes. It’s critical that you know where your shutoff valves are. Be sure to shut off lines that feed exterior faucets, hose bibs and spigots—even if they are ‘frost-free.’ An insulated sill cock cover, usually made of foam or polystyrene, can help prevent a frozen bib. Cost: FREE-$
- Fire and Hearth. Inspect your fireplace for critters, nests and creosote build-up prior to your first burn. Creosote and animal waste can be hazardous. For minimal creosote residue, you can simply use a toss in canister or sprinkle a granular mixture over the wood. Tri-sodium phosphate is a safe cleaner for chimney lining and brick. Cost for self-clean: $. For heavier build up, call a Chimney Sweep (yes, that’s a real thing!) Cost: $$. It’s also a good idea to sweep or vacuum any old ash or cinders for a clean hearth. Cost: FREE.
- Bring the Outdoors In. Bring any lawn maintenance equipment, grills and furniture inside if you have room. Cold temperatures, snow and ice can damage these items. Storage in a basement, garage or shed will work just fine. Propane tanks should be closed and disconnected before storing a grill and must be stored outside. No room indoors? A good grill cover and furniture covers will do the trick. Cost: FREE-$$
- Keep it Cozy (and save $). Install a programmable thermostat and set the temperature to 68 degrees. The U.S. Department of Energy states that you can save as much as 1% for every degree you lower your heating temperature during winter. Many companies offer a free thermostat when you complete an energy audit. Cost: FREE-$
- Reverse the Rotation. Most new ceiling fans come with reversible rotation. Be sure your fan blades rotate clockwise to bring hot air down from the ceiling during colder months. This helps #8 above as well. Cost: FREE-$
- Stop the Slips. Use a deicer, salt or sand to melt snow and ice and to prevent slips and falls. And be sure to invest in a sturdy shovel for snow accumulation. Old Man Winter can be unforgiving!
And as an added bonus, we like the Scout Motto: “Be Prepared.” Keep flashlights and batteries handy and stow a first aid kit in an accessible location.
As the cold weather approaches, these protective and preventative measures will go a long way in how comfortable, safe and energy efficient your home is. The best part? Most of these tasks, if not all, can be performed without professional help at nominal costs. Snow Angels anyone? Check out our free graphic here.