It seems to happen in the blink of an eye. First, the kids go back to school. Then, the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, and red. Next thing you know, the holidays are here and then – hello, winter! Now, before you go “dashing through the snow,” there are some things both homeowners and renters should consider doing to prepare for the colder winter months ahead. Make sure your home is ready with these tips:1. Add Attic InsulationThe most effective use of insulation is in the attic. Unfortunately, most homes have either no insulation or too little insulation in the attic. A properly insulated attic floor will prevent heated air in the rooms below from flowing into the attic. It’s equally essential to caulk all ceiling penetrations—holes around pipes, ducts, and wires—and place an insulated cover over the attic hatchway or stairway.
2. Caulk Cracks
This is one of the simplest—and most effective—ways to stop cold-air infiltration is to plug up holes, cracks, and open seams around the exterior of your house. Use a high-quality acrylic-latex caulk or expanding-foam sealant and fill any air-leaking gaps. Pay particular attention to the areas around the outside of windows, doors, hose faucets, and where the siding overlaps the foundation.
3. Replace Door Weather Stripping
Inspect the weather stripping around all exterior doors to ensure that it’s in good shape and not ripped, crushed, or missing. Then, close the door and check for air-leaking gaps around all four edges of the door. Take a peek under the door. If you see sunlight shining through, you’ll need to either raise the threshold or install a door sweep.
4. Change Furnace Filters
Change your furnace’s air filter every two months throughout the winter season. A clogged, dirty filter will impede airflow and dramatically reduce the efficiency of the furnace. Also, be sure to have your furnace tuned up annually by a licensed HVAC contractor.
5. Install A Programmable Thermostat
If your family keeps a regular schedule, meaning you come and go at somewhat similar times each day, install a programmable thermostat, which can be adjusted to suit your lifestyle. For example, you can preset it to automatically turn on the heat in the morning as everyone is getting up for work and school, and then lower the heat once everyone has left the house. You can program the heat to come back on just before everyone gets home later in the day and then shut it back down at bedtime. Most programmable thermostats also have weekend and vacation settings. If you buy a smart programmable thermostat, you’ll be able to control it from anywhere in the world using your phone or tablet.
6. Having Heating Checked
Furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to clear any buildup and keep them running efficiently.
7. Test Your Detectors
Residential fires are more common in winter, so all of your smoke detectors must work. Check them monthly and replace batteries as needed. It would be best if you also considered installing a carbon monoxide detector to avoid inadvertently trapping this toxic gas in your home.
8. House the Hose
Remove all attached garden hoses, drain them and store them away. Shut off the valves and insulate the faucet.
9. Reverse Ceiling Fans
Think ceiling fans are only helpful in the summer? Think again. Most fans have a switch—either on the motor housing or remote control—that allows you to reverse the fan-blade rotation. In summer, the blades rotate counterclockwise to blow down cooling breezes. But in winter, reverse the blade rotation, so they blow up. That way, the fan will force warm air trapped at the ceiling down into the room.And finally, if you’re heading south for the winter, you need to take extra precautions. Turn the water completely off and consider having the plumbing system drained to keep pipes from freezing. Also, have a friend or neighbor check on your home regularly to look for any issues. If a problem is detected, time is of the essence.Most homeowners insurance policies cover damages due to extreme winter weather but make sure you speak with your independent agent to answer any questions about your specific homeowners’, condo, or renters’ insurance policy.Now, enjoy those fireplace-filled weekends knowing you’re well-prepared for the winter!