Getting Your Home Ready for Winter
The holidays are coming and your to-do list is likely a mile long, but be sure to take some time to winterize your home. Getting your home ready for winter now can go a long way toward saving you money and increasing your comfort once that cold weather hits.
Fireplaces are a cold weather lover’s dream. Keep yours performing at its best with an annual fireplace inspection and cleaning. This will ensure your fireplace is clear of debris, your damper is working properly and there are no dangerous gaps in your masonry. Also be sure to have your chimney inspected from the roof to ensure that it remains waterproof from the exterior.
If you’re in a cold weather climate, you will need to shut off any outside water sources. Make sure outdoor garden hoses are sufficiently drained and stored, and turn off all exterior water spigots. If you have an outdoor AC unit, be sure to drain the hoses and turn off the water shutoff valve. Covering your outdoor AC unit with a waterproof cover will protect it from wet leaves, debris, and rust, and prolong the life of your unit.
Get a furnace inspection before the cold weather hits, and replace your furnace filter monthly during the heating season to improve your furnace’s efficiency and your home’s air quality. Choose a genuine HEPA filter which meets the US government standard of removing at least 99.97% of airborne particles. This is also a great time to vacuum out your heating vents to ensure the most efficient air flow and to reduce dirt and dust circulating into your home.
Install a programmable thermostat to reduce your energy usage and your heating bill. A programmable thermostat allows you to effortlessly alter the temperature in your home throughout the day based on how you live. You can program your thermostat to a lower temperature during weekdays while your home is empty when the family is at work and school, then have the furnace kick back in to warm things up by the time you get home, as well as keep temps a little cooler at night when you’re warm in bed. You can save 1-3% on your heating bill for every degree you lower your thermostat during these cooler months – a minor adjustment that can lead to major money savings!
Did you know ceiling fans are also great for helping your home stay warm? Simply switch the direction of the blades! Blades running in a counterclockwise rotation help cool your home during the summer, but reverse your ceiling fan blades to a clockwise rotation – done with the flip of a switch on your unit – and the blades will push warm air that has lifted to the ceiling back down into your living zone.
Purchase a window installation kit to install plastic over your windows and keep drafts at bay. Yes, that flimsy little plastic really does make a difference! Window installation kits are typically inexpensive, easy to install, and essentially invisible. They block cold outside drafts from coming in and create a pocket of insulation, improving your home’s ability to hold heat. This is also a great time to swap out lightweight curtains for thermal drapes for increased insulation and energy efficiency.
Cover your body when you’re cold instead of cranking up the thermostat! It’s much more energy efficient to throw on a cable knit sweater, tuck your toes into slippers and curl up with a warm blanket when you’re feeling chilled than it is to kick your furnace into high gear. Now is the time to store away all of those summer tank tops and make room in your dresser for your favorite sweaters and cardigans. Designate a basket or trunk in your living room to keep blankets close at hand and in sight when you’re looking for a little warmth.
Last but not least – sanitize! Keep your home as healthy as can be this upcoming cold and flu season by regularly sanitizing common spots that germy hands touch, such as door handles, light switches, and remote controls. Wiping down these surfaces is a great job for the kids to do on the weekend! Try these reusable disinfectant wipes for a quick and easy germ-killing option that won’t break the bank or end up in a landfill.