We all hear the news about climate change as well as the weird and sometimes disastrous weather patterns that seem to happen almost every day in some part of the world. It used to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. That’s not always the case anymore and the temperatures here in New Jersey sometimes seem like they’re 60-something degrees almost all year round. I may be exaggerating, slightly, but the weather has changed. When I hear some weather guy reporting that the temperatures in September were the warmest ever recorded for the month, and that they’ve broken the record now seven out of the last seven years, we have to admit that global warming is having an effect, don’t we? But sometime that effect is bad winter storms, and you need to prepare by winterizing your home.
That’s one reason I finally opened my wallet a few years ago and got the ball rolling on getting a new front door along with a storm door! I was finally ready (after freezing my rear end off for several years) to pull the cord and fix it. It has paid off in keeping us warmer and saving on our heating bill, enough to make me feel really foolish that I didn’t do it sooner.
Winterizing Your Home – A Checklist
Having said all that, the fact is that winter is almost here and it will be cold and probably snowy and windy as usual in the northern parts of the country. If you live in a different area, you probably don’t have as much of a harsh climate to worry about, but there will still be some things that you need to do to prepare for the weather change. Keeping up with maintenance helps to prevent bigger, and more expensive problems later. So here are the things I suggest you do right now to winterize your home so that you aren’t caught off-guard when the weather huffs and puffs and tries to blow your house down!
1. Doors and Windows
Caulk and weather strip. Check glass for any cracks. Thermal pane windows are best for insulation, but even plastic window insulation to keep drafts out of your home at a fraction of the cost is worth something.
2. Roof and Gutters
Clean out debris now so that they will run freely in rain and snow. This can help prevent damage to roofing and prevent water buildups around the foundation. Remove leaves; they cause blockages.
3. Fireplace and Wood Stoves
Make sure you have cleaned and checked the flue and any connections to outdoor pipes. These are areas that can be blocked with residue and cause fires if not maintained. Keep your wood supplies away from the house itself. This is a breeding area for insects and small animals who are looking for a nice warm place to live during the cold or wet weather.
4. Heating and Cooling Systems
Clean or replace all filters and check all ducts to make sure they’re at maximum performance. These systems need seasonal service and if they’re not maintained well your money is going to waste. As a reminder, never keep flammable materials near your heating and cooling systems. If you have wall unit air conditioners, consider using air conditioner covers to keep the warm air in and cold air out.
5. Get a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat will regulate your indoor temperature to save you money. You will be able to set the temperature lower when you’re away from home or sleeping, as well as schedule it to warm up before you get home or wake up. While having a connected home thermostat is nice to have, the important part is that you can set the temperature automatically.
6. Lawns, Backyards, and Decks
Cover, tie down, or remove outdoor furniture. It can be blown around during a storm and be damaged, or worse yet, damage your home and break glass doors and windows. Lawns that have automated sprinkler systems should be shut down and drained to prevent freezing as should outdoor faucets.
7. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be checked for good condition and batteries. Also check emergency lighting like flashlights. Keep them along with extra batteries in strategic locations around the house in case of power loss. Make sure you’re prepared in case of fire or other emergencies.
8. Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is critical during a bad storm. I always keep some extra blankets and bottled water around just in case of winter emergencies. I also have candles and matches stocked if all else fails. You may want to keep a portable charger around to power your phone as well as some non-perishable food items. Don’t forget to have an emergency kit in your car as well!
9. Outdoor Pools and Hot Tubs
Above or in-ground pools should be drained if not used year-round. Cover to prevent accidents and damage.
10. Slipping Hazards
Examine the outside of your home for areas that may become slipping hazards in wintry weather. This includes steps and walkways. Be sure to have a supply of ice melt on hand.
Consulting a Professional
While doing it yourself can save you money if you know what you are doing, in some cases you may need to hire a professional to fix or prepare your home for winter. Remember to use licensed and insured contractors and check their references as well. Do not pay in full until the work is completed and you are satisfied. It sounds a bit over-cautious, but home maintenance and service is one of the biggest examples of fraud and shoddy work. This is primarily because most of us don’t really have those skills and are easily fooled until after the fact when something bad happens.
Even if you don’t own your home, it’s advisable to check any applicable items on this list and make sure your landlord is addressing any problems you find. The last thing you want to do it to assume that all is well and they’ve done the checking for you. Ask them what they have done or you may just regret it.
Winterizing your home should be a regular step you take around this time of year. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so take care of your home before problems occur.
What are you most concerned about when it comes to the upcoming winter weather? What are you doing to prepare for it?
Image courtesy of JamesDeMers at pixabay.com (with changes)