Winter is coming—that means it’s time to start preparing your home for the cold weather that lies ahead. For most, the winter months signify a time to crank up the heat and cozy up with your family at home on chilly nights. Here are some tips for keeping your heater in good condition, fight germs, and prevent that stuffy feeling that can often come with hunkering down at home.
This is another way to save big on energy costs during the winter. Even a small break in a window’s seal can result in money going out the window (literally!). In fact, according to EnergyStar.gov, you can save up to 10% of energy costs simply by ensuring your home is properly sealed and insulated. Check all of the windows and doors in your home for drafts around the edges and, if you detect airflow, call a repairman or look into a DIY solution to keep the warm air in your home and the cold air out.
While a window seal may be a simple DIY, inspecting (and potentially sealing) your ducts is something best left to a professional. Faulty ducts mean that air is leaking on the way to your living space, resulting in high energy bills and inefficient heating. Schedule an inspection before the weather gets too cold and promptly address any leaks to prevent unnecessary leakage.
Home air filters that are clogged with dirt and debris not only limit your airflow which can be harmful to your home’s air handler but they can also be harmful to your health. Be sure to replace your air filters at least every three months—otherwise, you may notice that your heat isn’t performing effectively. In addition to ensuring optimal heating throughout the chilly winter, fresh micro-allergen air filters keep bacteria and other germs out of the air during a season that is known for its cold and flu bugs.
Pipes that have frozen over are a major pain, so it’s better to avoid it from happening than to deal with it. Don’t let your thermostat fall below 50 degrees and keep your water heater on at all times to ensure your pipes don’t freeze—even if that means leaving it on low while you’re on winter vacation. It may seem better to shut it off and save money while your home is empty, but frozen pipes are much more troublesome than its worth.
If you have a fireplace and plan on using it throughout the winter, have your chimney flue professionally inspected before building your first fire of the season. This will ensure that the smoke and debris are leaving your home in the right manner.
Your indoor air vents are one thing, but the exhaust vents on the outside of your house are usually out-of-sight and, therefore, out-of-mind. In the winter, however, this can get dangerous if snow and ice block up the vent’s exit. Not only could this shut off your heater in the dead of winter, but it could also mean carbon monoxide buildup from the combustion of a heater that is on but not working properly.
Freezing water can cause damage to hoses and outdoor faucets, so it’s important to address this before the weather gets too cold. First and foremost, disconnect all hoses, clear them of water, and store them in a safe and dry place. You’ll then need to turn the shut-off valve for outside faucets (this is often found in the basement). Once the water flow has been shut off, turn on all of the outdoor faucets to drain all of the water out. Faucets can be left on throughout the winter if the water has been shut off properly.
In many homes, the crawl space is the culprit for most air leakage. Sealing your crawl space can save bundles on energy costs and will also reduce the humidity level of the space. Left to its own devices, a crawl space can fill up with mold and mildew which can be carried into the house through air vents. Not to mention, excessive levels of moisture tend to attract neighborhood pests. Keeping the area dry is the best way to keep your crawl space in tip-top shape and prevent exposure to airborne toxins.
The more time you spend at home, the more important it is for it to feel clean and fresh. Keep your counters clear and dust your surfaces regularly. Vacuum your home and deodorize your carpets with baking soda if things start to feel stale—this is an easy way to refresh the space and keep your home feeling and smelling good. A clean house will also help to keep germs at bay, preventing cold and flu illnesses from spreading inside.
There you have it. With these tips, your home will be primed and ready for a warm and cozy winter. Bring on the cocoa!