How to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Homeownership is exciting, but purchasing a new home comes with its fair share of challenges - both expected and unexpected.
The changing of the seasons can put a lot of stress on your home. In the winter, your routine changes and so do your needs in the heating and lighting departments. Many homeowners don't know the small steps they can take to prepare their home for colder weather and help them save in the long-run.
Whether you're spending your first winter in a new home or have already settled into your retirement oasis, here are some easy tips for keeping your property safe and cost-efficient this winter.
Drafts are a major drain on your home's most precious resource during colder months: heat. Not only do they make you chilly, but they are also contributing to your heating bill. House Logic found that up to 30% of a home's heating and cooling energy is lost due to air leaks. That means your HVAC system is working harder to keep your home warm.
While windows and doors are common culprits for drafts, AllState also reports that attics, plumbing vents, recessed lighting and basement joists can also be sources of air leeks. Take the time to inspect these areas of your house, or just be proactive in sealing your windows and doors and using silicone to fill in cracks along the basement floor.
Protect your plumbing
If you live in an area that experiences extremely cold temperatures during the winter, you likely know the risk of frozen plumbing. But even if you're in a milder climate you can benefit from insulating your plumbing in the winter. When the water in your pipes freezes it can burst your utility lines, resulting in costly and inconvenient damages.
Plumbing Supply recommends being proactive in insulating exposed pipes, like in the garage or crawl spaces, because they are more susceptible to colder temperatures. Foam tubes should be readily available at your hardware store at a low cost. Dedicate an hour or so to complete this before the first big freeze to protect your pipes.
Invest in your home
Get energy-star rated windows and doors
Sometimes, saving money means investing some cash upfront. According to Energy Star, replacing a single-pane window with an ENERGY-STAR qualified window can save homeowners upwards of $465 on their heating and cooling costs. The same is true for doors.
Whether your winter consists of warm sandy beaches or cold snowy mountains, having windows and doors that protect against drafts can help you save money in the long-run.
If plugging your drafts isn't enough, you may want to consider upgrading your insulation. The fact of the matter is, some air leaks are just too big to be fixed with a draft stopper from a store. Especially if your house is on the older side, investing in new insulation in the attic or basement can help save on costs and will be an attractive selling point for future buyers.
Get a smart thermostat
Keeping your thermostat set to one temperature all day is actually a waste of resources. A smart thermostat can be programmed to change the temperature based on your activity and the time of day. For instance, when you are at work or asleep and don't require as much heat, the temperature can be set lower than when you are lounging around the house. Reviewed found that some popular smart thermostats can save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 23% on their heating and cooling costs.
Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is an increased risk of fire during the winter months. This is mostly due to heating (like space heaters), holiday decorations, winter storms and candles used during this time of year. Take the time to test all the smoke alarms in your home and change out their batteries if needed. The same goes for your carbon monoxide detectors.
Get your HVAC serviced
Before the first snow, it's ideal to get your heating and ventilation system checked for routine maintenance. As the season progresses, many service professionals may not have time to assist you, reports U.S. News and World Report. The sooner you can get this done, the better.
If there are any problems, you should get them fixed before severe cold weather sets in so your family will be warm and you can avoid frozen pipes. While you're getting your HVAC serviced, ask if the filter needs to be changed or if any venting should be closed to avoid drafts. Your HVAC professional should be able to help you winterize this essential home system.
Clean your fireplace
If you use a fireplace as a major source of heat during the winter, it's important to get it cleaned before your first fire of the season. After a summer of inactivity, there could be dangerous build-up or debris caught in the chimney that are hazardous to your home. Winter is a busy time for chimney sweeps as well, so it's even better to get your fireplace cleaned in the spring or summer to prepare your heat source for the next cold season.
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