Most of us will be nesting at home this winter, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that the house is ready for the challenges of the cold season. If you’re working or studying from home, that means you’ll have to keep your space nice and warm.
Heating costs tend to pile up when you’re using your furnace all day every day, compared to a few hours in the mornings and evenings, like most of us normally did the previous winters. You can control these costs and still be comfortable in your home by adding some extra insulation in the areas most exposed, like windows and doors. You should also store your garden furniture and tools somewhere inside to protect them from rain, snow and cold. Also, make sure that your garage is decluttered, so you don’t have to resort to parking your car in the driveway and having to clean and defrost your car before driving anywhere.
Here are the main steps you should take now to ensure your home is well prepared for the cold season:
1. Clean the gutters
Colorful autumn leaves are definitely gorgeous; however, they do have one downside — a lot of them end up in the gutters. As the cold season starts, it’s essential to have them removed, along with all the other debris building up in there. Otherwise, water doesn’t drain properly and ends up freezing inside the gutters, damaging your roof and potentially leading to leakages inside your home. The simplest way to do the task is by using a ladder and a small garden trowel to manually remove all the gunk in there. You could also use a hose to flush if there’s only fine debris. If you do this type of maintenance once or twice a year, it doesn’t get to the point where there’s a lot of built up dirt, so the job is a lot easier.
2. Turn off the outdoor water line
Turn off your home’s outdoor water valve — otherwise, the outdoor faucet and pipes will break as the water freezes inside them. Once you shut down the valve, you need to open the outside faucet to allow all the remaining water to drain. Then, disconnect the hose and close the faucet. If you’re not sure how to complete this task — maybe you recently moved, and you can’t locate the outdoor water valve — you should call a plumber. Outdoor frozen faucets can cause the pipes and the valve located inside your home to burst, and you might end up being flooded in the middle of the winter.
3. Put away the garden furniture and tools
From tables and chairs to a lawnmower, gardening tools or a barbecue grill, all essentially summer items need to be put away in a dry, safe place until spring. Leaving them outside throughout the entire winter will cause damage. Most people, however, don’t have enough space in their garage for all of them. Renting a self storage unit would offer you the extra space you need for all those items, while also allowing you to comfortably park your car inside the garage.
4. Prep your garage
Inspect your garage door to make sure it closes properly. Add weather stripping around it if there’s a lot of cold air coming in. Protect the water pipes with some type of insulating material, particularly if the garage is not heated. Make sure you have a snow shovel at hand and buy some salt for your driveway. To avoid melting snow from damaging your garage floor, invest in some good quality garage mats or, at the very least, get a squeegee and use it to get the snow melt out of your garage.
5. Repair and maintain the outside areas of the house
Clean your driveway and alleyway with a high-pressure cleaner. Fix any cracks or gaps you notice. You can also apply a driveway sealer to protect your driveway from water and salt penetration. If you have a wooden deck or porch, inspect it for loose boards, protruding nails, paint or varnish coat peeling and so on. Remedy the issues and apply a new layer of paint and sealant.
6. Insulate your interior
Good quality insulation on a house is extremely important — it prevents energy waste and high heating bills while also keeping you comfortable in your home. If your dwelling’s insulation has not been updated in a while, you should definitely consider a large-scale project to address the problem at some point.
However, in the meantime, there are some easy-to-do, inexpensive improvements:
- Use weatherproofing strips to seal problematic areas — around the windows and doors. Windows insulation kits are also a great way to improve the efficiency of older, single-paned windows.
- Add an extra layer of fiberglass or mineral wool in the attic. These products are inexpensive and easy to install — you just have to cut them to dimension and lay them down, like a carpet. It’s very efficient, as a lot of heat is lost through the ceilings. Stapling reflective foil to the attic roof rafters will improve insulation even more.
- If you have ceiling fans, turn them counterclockwise, which will help redirect the warm air down.
- Switch to thicker carpets and heavier curtains, if possible.
- Do you have a fireplace you never use in your living room? You are probably using a lot or heat through the chimney, so make sure you plug it. There are different types of plugs you can purchase and even balloons you insert in the chimney and then inflate. You could also improvise a plug by stuffing a garbage bag with old pillows or blankets and forcing it up the chimney. However, don’t forget to remove the plug if you do decide to make a fire.
- Use door snakes if you feel cold drafts entering your home.
- Feel around electrical outlets for cold air, and use gasket covers if needed.
7. Have your furnace or boiler serviced
Don’t skip regular furnace maintenance services. Professionals will inspect every part of your heating system to make sure there aren’t any problems. This saves you money in the long term — a small problem can turn into a major one is it’s not caught and remedied promptly.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, or you’re not happy with the one you have, shop around to find a product that suits your needs. Setting lower temperatures during nighttime or in areas of the home you’re not using frequently helps you save a lot of money.