Fall is upon us already. Aside from seeing brilliant colors in nature, people also feel the air getting crisper, the temperature getting colder, and the nights getting longer. Whether winter is something that you dread or look forward to, it does pay to make preparations inside and outside your home for the coldest season of the year.
Here, we will take a look at the top nine ideas on how to prepare your home for the cold season, and why you should be winter-proofing your home in the first place.
Why You Should Winter-Proof Your Home During the Fall Season
Before counting down the top ways for you to prepare your home for the cold season, let us first take a look at the reasons why it pays to do so during the start of autumn:
- It gives you time to prepare.
The fall season usually starts around September. With winter arriving in just a couple of months, the start of autumn is the perfect time for you to winter-proof your home. This is especially true if you live in a state which experiences particularly harsh winters.
You need to check everything starting from the functionality of your furnace or heating system; the structural integrity of your roof; the stability of your windows against hail or snow storms; and whether or not the outside of your home is safe for passers-by and members of your family.
By giving yourself a head start, you can make sure that your home is safe all throughout winter and you won’t have to rush once the snow is actually here.
- It helps you save on water and electricity.
Cooling and heating costs make up 50% of your utility bills. If your home is not winter-proof, you would have to spend more money on fuel or electricity when heating up your home. This is precisely the reason why you need to make sure that no heated air is escaping through your doors, windows, and ceiling.
If your furnace filter is dirty, the motor would have to work overtime in heating up your home so you would have to spend more on electricity. By winter-proofing your home, you can significantly lower your utility bills.
- It protects your investment.
More importantly, taking steps to make your home sturdier for the winter protects your investment. Your home is one of the biggest investments that you will make in a lifetime, and you wouldn’t want to ruin it by not taking the necessary steps to protect it from the coldest months of the year.
By checking on the integrity of the roof during the fall season, you can rest assured that it will not have leaks during the winter. You can avoid significant damage on the exterior of your home by taking preparatory steps in weather proofing it. There are many other things that you can do to ensure that each and every part of your home will not suffer any significant damage come winter.
Top 9 Ways to Prep Your Home for the Cold Season
Now, what are the specific ways for you to prepare your home for the cold season? Here are nine ideas:
1. Fine tune your home’s heating system.
There are different types of home water heating systems available:
- Forced Air Heating
- Geothermal Heating System
- Hydronic Heating System
- Radiant Heating System
- Steam Radiant Heating System
The most common heating system used for homes is forced air, where air is heated in a furnace and distributed from the furnace through the ductwork, then into the individual rooms. The sources of fuel for furnaces are propane, oil, natural gas or electricity. This is an inexpensive way of heating, another advantage of which is that air may be filtered, humidified, and dehumidified.
Once the fall season arrives, it makes perfect sense to fine tune your home’s heating system by changing the filters. You can also have a professional do it for you. A technician can closely inspect your home’s furnace or heat pump, clean it, or repair it, if necessary.
These professionals can also check for carbon monoxide leakage. The earlier you ask for a schedule for furnace tune-up, the more well-prepared you will be for the upcoming winter season.
2. Check on the structural integrity of your roof.
If the roof of your house was checked by a handyman last year, you still would need to inspect it this upcoming fall season. Use a pair of binoculars to check for loose, damaged or missing shingles. These can easily cause a leak on the roof during winter.
There should be a local handyman in your area who can repair the damaged shingles or replace the missing ones. The handyman can also check on the seals around the chimneys and vent stacks. Joints where water can penetrate should be sealed using a caulking gun and roofing cement.
3. Prevent potential damage on the exterior of your house.
For homeowners who live in areas where winters get particularly harsh, icicles and ice dams are a huge problem. These are string-like tubes of water with pointed tips frozen as ice which are usually seen on the roof at the sides of a house. Once the icicles melt, water will back up and flow into your house, thus damaging the exterior and even the interior.
You can seek the help of a contractor who specializes in weatherization to check on and fix air leaks, as well as areas where there is inadequate insulation. These spots in the attic can lead to icicles or ice dams.
The good news is that the federal government issues an energy efficiency tax credit for weatherization steps, which is something that you should definitely take advantage of.
4. Closely inspect the gutters.
Gutters full of dried leaves, branches and debris will cause water to back up against the exterior of your home. The roof, wood trim and siding may be damaged, and can even cause leaks, icicles, and ice dams. You can have a handyman clean the gutters for you, or you can do it yourself.
While you’re at it, check if there are any missing or damaged boards on the gutter so that you can replace them prior to the official start of the winter season.
5. Drain your rain barrels.
Depending on the type of rain barrel that you have, the task of draining can vary in degree of difficulty. Some rain barrels simply require the spigots to be opened, while others have to be drained by using a bucket to get rid of the water inside.
This is a task that you must finish during the fall season, just before the water starts to freeze. Put that extra water to good use by washing the car or watering the lawn grass or house plants so you won’t waste much.
6. Insulate pipes.
Pipes freezing and breaking would lead to water damage on your home. As soon as the fall season arrives, that’s as good a time as any to start insulating your water pipes, along with the water heater.
There are step-by-step guides online that you can follow so that you can insulate pipes yourself.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), insulating water pipes can raise the temperature inside your home from 2 to 4 degrees, without spending too much on investment. You can also slash up to 9% from your electricity bills for water heating by insulating the water tank.
7. Add insulation.
Even during the summer season, you would not want any of that precious cooled air to escape from your home. This is why the DOE recommends adding insulation to your entire home.
During the winter season, you would not have to spend as much on fuel and electricity to make the interior warmer.
You can take the DIY route in insulating your attic, or complete insulation projects throughout the year so that by the time the winter season arrives, you can save plenty of money on heating bills.
For the attic, it is recommended that you add up to 15 inches of insulation. This is also a great way to add value to your home.
8. Winter-proof the exterior of your home.
If it has been one year since you last touched and used your fireplace, the start of the autumn season is the best way to clean your chimney. This might require the help of a professional or if you’ve had some experience in tinkering with minor tasks around the house, you can do it yourself.
Make sure to get rid of any built-up deposits, or residue from animals that may have been resting inside the chimney. With an ultra-clean chimney, you can eliminate the risk of fire in your home during the winter season.
Perform other winter-proofing steps for the exterior of your home to make it safe and enduring against the harsh weather elements during the coldest months of the year.
9. Call in the pros.
If necessary, call in the help of a professional weather proofer. A handyman or a weatherization contractor would know exactly what to do to make your home safe, warm, and cosy for the upcoming winter months – and the start of the fall season is the best time to get started on all that.