The cold weather of winter is most definitely here – is your home ready for it? Here are 8 steps to take right now to being preparing your home for the rest of the winter:
1. Get Your Furnace Inspected. HVAC experts suggest doing an annual furnace inspection and service. Servicing your furnace prolongs the life of your system and helps you to save energy and decrease health risks. An inspection will ensure your system is clean and in good repair – remember that an inspection earlier on is better than an emergency repair later. The last thing you would want is a broken furnace in the middle of February!
2. Insulate. Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating blanket from the hardware store and insulate any exterior outlets and switch plates with foam sealing gasket. If you do not use your fireplace, make sure you block the cold air from coming down the chimney. You can insulate your fireplace by cutting a piece of fiberglass insulation and stuffing it into the fireplace behind the glass doors. Remember that this needs to be removed whenever you do decide to use it!
3. Check for Air Leaks. If you find yourself turning the thermostat up, or if a room feels drafty, it could be that you have air leaks from your windows or doors. Preparing your home for winter can be made easy simply by weather-stripping and caulking any gaps. Check and repair caulking around doors and windows and places like outside faucets or air vents.
4. Protect Your Pipes. If your pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly – moving water does not freeze as easily. If you plan to be away from your home, set the thermostat to no lower than 12 degrees Celsius – this will help to protect your pipes from the cold.
5. Reverse Your Ceiling Fan. Save on heating costs – set your ceiling fan so that the blades turn clockwise. When the blades move clockwise – the fan will produce an updraft and push the hot air back into the room. This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.
6. Protect Your Floors. Entryway flooring can really take a beating during the winter months. Between the snow, ice, salt and mud – entryways can look like a disaster area. Increase the longevity of your floors by using floor mats inside and outside. Provide a boot scraper or brush outside to remove excess snow and debris – the more you can take off outside, the less mess you will have inside.
7. Check Batteries in Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Detectors. This should be done every month, but is especially important during the winter when we keep our windows closed and use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces more often.
8. Keep an Eye on Trees. Preparing your home for winter also means protecting it from the elements. If you have trees close to your house, keep an eye on tree limbs during big snowfalls. Limbs can become heavy and more prone to breaking. Ease the burden on your trees by brushing off snow using a broom. Remember, do not shake the tree – this can cause brittle limbs to break and fall.