Winter is coming! No, it’s not just a Game of Thrones reference, but a reminder that the seasons are changing and the days are growing colder. As you prepare for the chillier air by bundling up, don’t forget to also prepare your home for the winter months (and keep your electric bill from skyrocketing as you try to stay warm). Here are seven ways to get your home ready:
- Prune back any overhanging tree branches: Tree branches (dead or alive) are more likely to fall when weighed down with ice or snow, potentially damaging homes, gutters, cars, or even people. Remove any branches that overhang your home or driveway early in the season, or hire a professional to take care of those that may be out of your reach.
- Prepare your exterior faucets: Disconnect and drain any garden hoses, turn off the water via shutoff valves located in your home or basement, and then drain any water that may be left if your exterior faucets. Finally, insulate any exposed pipes or faucets to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Clean your gutters: Remove any debris that has built up to ensure proper drainage. Water that sits in clogged gutters can lead to moisture damage included the dreaded dry rot, which can be an expensive fix that’s easily avoided with a quick gutter cleaning! This is also a good time to repair any leaks that you may find. (Photo credit: Michael Beck via flickr)
- Seal any gaps with caulk: A caulk gun and tube of caulk are two inexpensive tools to combat any cold air that may be sneaking into your home. Fill any gaps around siding, windows, and doors to not only keep drafts out, but also rodents and insects that may be trying to get indoors to somewhere warmer.
- Have your fireplace professionally inspected: Fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42% of all home-heating fires, so safety is crucial! Hire a chimney sweep to remove soot and debris, and to inspect the structure for potential damage. Also be sure to inspect the flue so it closes properly to eliminate any drafts when not in use.
- Reverse your ceiling fan: This quick fix is often overlooked, but can help keep heat in a room (especially those with high ceilings). During the winter, set your fan so the blades spin clockwise when you look up at it. This will produce an updraft and push heated air that’s hanging around the ceiling down into the lower part of a room.
- Stock up on winter essentials before you need them: There’s no need to be running to the store when the power goes out and the roads are icy for a few essentials. Keep a stash of items that you may need on hand for when the power goes out, such as extra batteries, flashlights, candles, bottled water, and even some things to combat boredom like playing cards or books. It may also be wise to pick up a snow shovel and salt or something to melt ice before you truly need it!