Preparing Your Home for the Winter

As we move into the fall months and the weather starts to cool down a bit, it’s time to forget about the A/C and start preparing your home for the cold months. When temperatures fall below freezing, you need a home that remains functional and keeps you warm. With a little bit of forward thinking and a few simple steps, you can have your home ready for the frigid winter months in no time at all.

Insulation

When it comes to keeping your house warm (or cool, for that matter), proper insulation is a must. While many people think of insulation as being the fluffy material in between walls, insulation in your home is much more than that. Here are some of the important spots in your home to insulate.

  •          Walls and attic: Most people will have adequate insulation in the walls of their home, but that’s not always the case. Older homes may lack insulation; if you have old plaster walls, you may need to blow insulation into the walls.
  •          Windows: Every home has windows, but all windows aren’t built equally. Older single-pane windows weren’t designed to keep heat and cold out. If you have old windows, replacing them with double-pane windows can reduce heat loss by up 10-20% in the winter.
  •          Miscellaneous: This is the most overlooked part of insulating a home, and includes weather-stripping and caulking. Once you’ve got solid insulation in your walls and attic and good windows, it’s time to look at these smaller leaks that could be costing you money and comfort.

Regardless of how you’re adding insulation to your home, it’s important to do the job right; call a professional if you have to.

Heating

If you haven’t had your heating system inspected and cleaned in a while, now is the perfect time. Central heating needs maintenance every so often to ensure it’s running at full power and efficiency. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can get help from heating and cooling professionals. Otherwise, here is what you should do to maintain your central heating unit.

The first thing you should check, regardless of system type, is the thermostat. You can check the accuracy of your thermostat by taping a glass thermometer to the wall next to it—make sure to keep it separated from the wall. If your thermostat isn’t showing what the glass thermometer is, you may need to recalibrate your thermostat. If that doesn’t work, it might need to be replaced.

Air filters should be checked every month and replaced when needed. These filters are relatively inexpensive and help maintain air quality and energy efficiency. For better air quality, get a filter with a higher MERV rating. Your ducts should also be checked yearly. This is more of a job for a professional, but you want to make sure there are no buildups, rusting or open joints. Ductwork should be cleaned on an as-needed basis. In addition to these tasks, you should also make sure your blower is cleaned regularly, the combustion chamber is clean, and the blower belt is functioning properly (if there is one).

Prevent Pipe Freezing

Water is a vital resource throughout the year, but winter is when you’re more likely to be stuck without it. When pipes freeze, water can’t run through them and you’re stuck with no running water. Before you feel the full effects of winter, make sure all of your vulnerable pipes are wrapped in insulating sleeves or heat tape to keep them from freezing. For kitchen and bathroom pipes, keep the cabinet doors open to make sure some warm air circulates around the pipes. By following all of these steps, you can ensure your home is ready for the first below-freezing day of winter.