It’s no secret that here, in the Midwest, our winters are long and can be bitterly cold. As the weather turns from summer to fall, there is no better time to survey your home to ensure that it is prepared to withstand the cold, wind, and snowy weather that is sure to come during the winter months. These five DIY tips on preparing your home for winter will not only help you keep warm during the colder months but can also help prevent more serious issues that the cold weather can bring.
Prepare the Exterior: The exterior of your home takes the full brunt of the sometimes brutal winter weather so it needs to be sured up so that it can adequately protect you and your family from whatever Old Man Winter dishes out. Not to mention, it is much more pleasant to take care of these tasks during the fall before the temperatures begin to dip close to the freezing mark!
Take a few hours to clean any fallen leaves out of the gutters and while you’re on the ladder, survey your roof for leaks and repair them. If you have trees on your property, take a look at the branches and remove any that could be weighed down by ice or snow and cause damage to your (or your neighbor’s) home if they fall.
Winterize Your Plumbing: Burst pipes and water damage are one of the leading causes of home damage during the winter months. Fortunately, these issues are easily preventable with a few, inexpensive steps you can do yourself.
Disconnect and drain all outside hoses and, if possible, shut off outside water valves to prevent burst pipes and costly water leaks. Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer. When temperatures dip below freezing it is always best practice to leave your faucets on with a slow trickle to keep the water in your pipes from freezing.
Install a Programmable Thermostat: Programmable thermostats are great, money-saving, devices that can help your home become more energy efficient and save you money all year round. Programmable thermostats are digital which allows you to set your home to an exact temperature. For every degree you raise or lower the temperature in your home during the heat of the summer or the cold of winter, you can save up to 2 percent on your utility bill.
Programmable thermostats also allow you to set your heating or air conditioning to a schedule that mimics your own. This way, your heat or air conditioning is not running at full capacity while you’re out of the house but will turn back on in just enough time so that when you do arrive home, you’d never know the difference.
Ready Your Doors: Exterior doors are major offenders for heat loss in the home during the winter months. First, check your doors for air leaks. Run your hand around the door to sense any drafts and visually check if you can see light coming through around the doors.
If leaks are found around the frame of the door install weatherstripping foam or felt material around the inside of your door frame. For drafts found under the door install a door sweep. Both weatherstripping and door sweeps are inexpensive and available for purchase at your local hardware store.
Seal Attic Leaks: Air leaks in your attic can be responsible for up to 30% of your home’s heat or cool air loss during the year adding up to approximately $300 of wasted energy each year. To effectively seal off any leaks, pull back your attic insulation and inspect drywall cutouts for electrical fixtures, pipes, fans, and outlets and seal them with caulk. You will also want to be sure to inspect any wiring, chimneys, flues, vent stacks and ducts, and seal them from the inside. Most small cracks can be sealed adequately with caulk but consider spray foam for any larger gaps.
These 5 tips for protecting your home from the cold winter months are essential to keeping your home safe from damage and saving you money on your energy bills. These simple projects can protect your home for a harsh winter. They are best done in the fall before extreme low temperature, and ice and snow limits outside repair work. If you’re not handy (we don’t judge!) or your honey-do list is already too long, let our expert contractors handle these projects for you! Contact us today for your free estimate because you can’t put a price on that warm, cozy feeling during the winter.