While plenty of people welcome the colder weather as a break from summer’s sweltering heat, few homeowners are as excited about the extra costs that winter brings. Not only do you see your heating bills spike when the snow starts to fall, but you often have to invest in repairing damage around your home that the icy weather causes.
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do around the house to fortify it against winter weather. Try out these home maintenance tricks before the temperatures plummet and you just might make it to spring without facing exorbitant heating and repair bills.
Insulation in your attic, basement, and crawl space is key to keeping warm air inside during the winter. Without adequate insulation, up to 20% of every dollar you spend on heating your home goes to waste. It also provides a helping hand during the summer, as it keeps cooled air inside during hotter temperatures and can lower your air conditioning costs.
While the initial cost of insulating your home isn’t the cheapest investment, you’ll see the savings back on your heating and electric bills. To have effective insulation that actually keeps your bills low and your home warm during the winter, hire a professional to install it. This may be pricier than doing it yourself, but it will be a better quality of work. You can try to reduce costs by asking the insulation installer if you can perform parts of the job.
Check Your Detectors
This tip is less for saving you money now and more for ensuring that you don’t face a disastrous (and expensive) home fire this winter. Fires in buildings happen more often in freezing weather than during summer’s warmth, largely because of malfunctioning heating equipment. By replacing the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors and checking that they work, you can get your family to safety and call for help more quickly in case of a fire.
You can also reduce the risk of fire by performing certain home maintenance tasks. Start with cleaning or replacing your dryer vent. The failure to clean this vent is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires. Check other major appliances in your home as well, such as your oven and stove, to ensure that nothing poses a threat. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher in the house, just in case.
As you fireproof the house, you should take this time to make sure there are no other harmful gases in your home. Purchase a radon detection kit to ensure the invisible gas isn’t leaking into your home and putting your family’s health at risk. Short-term detectors will measure radon for two to 90 days, depending on the device. You should also remember to put new batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors are especially useful in the winter, as carbon monoxide comes from fuel-burning appliances, such as furnaces and fireplaces.
Seal Drafty Windows
A surprising amount of warm air can escape out of your home’s windows. As this air leaks out, cold air can sneak in. This is an especially prevalent problem for homes with old windows. One way to keep the air where you want it is to tape clear plastic over the entire window. Try doing this for windows in every area of your home, including bedrooms, living rooms, and the kitchen. While this may not be the most appealing option for the 58% of home buyers who say that their kitchen’s style is very important to them, it can make a huge difference in the heating bills. Just be sure to tape the plastic very tightly, or else air will still seep through the cracks.
If you want a more aesthetically-pleasing alternative to sealing drafty windows, you can invest in tight-fitting curtains or blinds. They will likely cost more than simple plastic, but they can help seal out the cold air as well as absorb any that makes it inside. If you’re willing to make an investment that will pay back in time, you could install new windows with stronger glass. You could choose a material like laminated tempered glass, which is four to five times more difficult to fracture than normal glass. This stronger glass can also provide you better protection during winter storms that can break windows with strong winds and ice.
Inspect The Foundation
You probably don’t often think about your home’s foundation, but a leaky foundation can take as much of a toll on your energy bill as a drafty window. Even though concrete structures can last for over 100 years, cracks can still form in your home’s concrete foundation. Before winter comes, try to seal up any cracks in your foundation with caulk or putty.
While you’re taking care of the cracks, look for any spaces around pipes and wires that pass through your foundation. You can also seal these spaces with caulk or putty to stop air leaks both into and out of your home. Without these leaks, your heating system won’t need to work as hard to keep your home warm.
Between sealing up the many cracks in your home that allow warm air to escape and fortifying your home against the dangers of winter, you might feel that you have an intimidatingly long to-do list. Remember to take a deep breath and tackle each item on your list one at a time. By starting now, you’ll be well-prepared when winter rolls around and you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare your home.