Winter is in the Air
I step outside and defiantly notice the seasons are changing, no longer can I run in shorts, if I can run outside at all. Changes in the temperature can cause more damage to your house then your body. Both require some winter-proofing to be ready for the cold.
October has come and gone: the leaves have changed, Halloween is behind us, and winter is speedily approaching. If you happen to live or own a home in an area that is prone to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures in the winter, then it is time to start preparing your home for the coming cold. Even in locations in the South like Texas or Alabama, the temperatures can unexpectedly and quickly drop below freezing.
While winterizing your home may not be the most exciting task, doing so is crucial. Many of us tend to overlook the importance of winter-proofing our homes, and you may be surprised to learn how much you can save in the long run by taking a few simple steps.
I will share with you a few painless things you can do to winter-proof your home and, by doing so, save money.
Protect Your Outdoor Faucets
Leaving outside water sources on and exposed to the elements is a surefire way to invite frozen, bursting pipes, and expensive repairs. While taking care of them may seem like an obvious step, it is one that many forget about as seasons change and temperatures drop.
You can shut off your home’s internal water valve so that no water is pooling in faucets and pipes, and open all of your external taps to make sure they are drained completely. Once you’ve emptied all your taps, pipes and garden hoses, consider using insulated faucet-covers to provide some further protection.
You can find good quality covers from stores like Walmart or Home Depot for well under twenty dollars a piece that can be reused year after year, which is much cheaper than a $280 average price you would have to pay to fix just a single foot of water pipe damaged from water freezing in your pipes.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Whether you choose to do it yourself, borrow the services of a friend, neighbor, or family member, or you decide to hire a professional, cleaning out your gutters is crucial to prolonging the life of your roof.
By the time winter rolls around, your gutters have collected months’ worth of leaves and debris. Failing to clean out your gutters before ice and snowfall grace your with their frosty presence creates a significant amount of added weight and stress on your gutters and roof.
That added weight can damage your roof over time, and the debris left in gutters can make it nearly impossible for melting snow and ice to drain effectively, rendering your gutters essentially useless. Take care of this task now, before you end up paying to reattach or replace collapsed gutters.
Take Care of Your Furnace
Having a professional come into service your furnace or gas heater may seem like an unnecessary expense, but in reality, you may be saving yourself from waking up with icicles hanging from your ears and a whammy of a repair bill in your hand. If you are out of the habit of replacing the filters in your house, winter is definable an excellent time to do that!
Most companies charge under $100 to service a furnace or gas heater, and may even clean out your ducts for you (more on that in a minute). Regularly maintaining your furnace will significantly increase the life and efficiency of your appliance.
And I’m not sure about you, but I’d much rather pay to have my furnace serviced than pay for a new one which will run you $5,000 for just the furnace — installation and fees sold separately.
If you have a fireplace, ensure you have it checked and cleaned before using it for the first time of the season.
While you’re taking care of your furnace, you should also...
Clean Your Air Filters and Ducts
If you’ve never taken the time to inspect your vents, you may be surprised by the amount of dust, dirt, and allergens that gather inside over time.
If you don’t clean out your vents before turning on your heat, it means all that gunk will now be sent through the air and into your home, food, and lungs. Cleaning out your vents and ducts before turning on your heat is not only more sanitary, it’s better for your health.
While you’re at it, you should also replace your furnace’s air filter to ensure your heated air is as clean as can be.
Seal Cracks and Gaps
Did you know that using a draft stopper could potentially save you 15% or more on your heating bill? If your doors and windows are far from new, they waste more energy than you may realize. Placing a draft stopper in front of outside-connecting doors is a cheap and easy way to keep the heat inside where it belongs. Rolls of weather striping tap can be purchased as low as $5 at Home Depot.
You should also check your windows to make sure you can’t feel a draft. Weatherstripping on windows may need to be replaced, or if you fancy yourself a bit of a handyman, you can use caulk to seal a small gap yourself. So if you feel a draft, make sure you find the source.
While you’re walking around feeling doors and windows, you might as well inspect your outlets too. Outlets that are on your home’s outer walls should be insulated, but if the builders of your home cut corners, they may not be! If you feel a draft around your outlets, open them up, and see if they are missing insulation. Fortunately, if they are, this is a cheap and easy fix.
While winter-proofing your home may seem like just another thing to add to an endless to-do list, it is a chore that has the potential to make your life significantly more manageable and save you quite a bit of money on your heating bill this winter. Set yourself up for a budget-friendly, relaxing, and ‘no-surprises’ season, and winterize your home today!