Preparing your home for colder weather is a process that can make even the most responsible homeowner cringe. But if you do it right, it could end up saving you a lot of time, energy and money as fall turns into winter, and the dark days of January and February set in.
Getting a head start
During the dog days of summer or the early bloom of fall, getting your home ready for winter is probably one of the last things on your mind. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of small projects you can undertake, even if you only do them in a piecemeal fashion, to make your winter at home more comfortable.
You’ll want to start by looking for outdoor improvements you can make while the weather is still warm. You can clear space in your garage for a place to store summer-only amenities like insect screens, start to dismantle the tables and chairs that adorn your outdoor living spaces, clean and store any fixed door or window screens, and wash out your gutters. (Of course, with retractable screens that’s one less job to do!)
Maintaining your furnace or boiler, insulating your ducts and cleaning air filters are other crucial things you can do to get ahead in the winterization process. And since a furnace tune-up usually costs less than $100, it’s a relatively cheap measure to take.
Winterizing = energy and cost savings
Energy and financial savings are two of the biggest benefits to be gained from preparing your home for the change of seasons. With a few simple steps, you can check for and plug drafty windows, doors or vents. Those measures will not only save you money on your utility bills throughout the winter, they will also make your home more efficient and environmentally friendly. Investing just a little bit of time in that effort can help you reduce your home’s energy use by 5 to 30 percent.
There are several widely available products that you can use to accomplish that task. Felt, foam, rubber or tape can be effective for weather-stripping your doors and windows and can actually be helpful year-round. Plastic window insulation – essentially saran wrapping your windows using self-adhesive, heavy-duty plastic wrap or shrink film that attaches with the use of a hair dryer – is another important technique you can employ to make your home more efficient throughout the winter.
The onset of winter doesn’t just bring colder weather and icy roads, it can also lead to household dangers. You’ll need to closely monitor any products you use to heat your home to make sure none of them present a danger. For instance, an electric blanket left running can start a fire.
Icicles and slippery walk- and driveways can present other dangerous winter obstacles. Before it gets too deep into the end of the year, you’ll want to stock up on salt or cat litter that you can use to improve traction, and make sure to store a shovel in an easy to get to place to use for removing icicles.
Prioritizing your tasks
The best part about winterizing your home is the stuff you don’t have to do. Depending on how you’ve designed your living space, you might be able to cross a number of tasks of your list before you even get started.
You could have retractable screens that simply need to be retracted into their housings, or if you’ve insulated your home from drafts to save on air conditioning during the summer, the same techniques and products can be used (or might already be in place) for fall and winter. If you plan properly, and set aside a little time each week, you can have your home prepared for the next season with minimum hassle.