It’s July. It’s hot. The summer sun scorches and people paddle around in their swimming pools. However, the wild and wooly winter will arrive quickly and it’s never too early to make a checklist for winterizing the house. Preparing a house for winter weather is mostly a matter of common sense precautions to help protect a property from unnecessary damage, provide comfort and peace of mind to the inhabitants and, best of all, save on heating costs. Although many of the suggestions here are best done in late fall, there are many that can be taken care of at any time of the year, including the middle of the summer.
• Have the furnace, water heater and any other heating equipment inspected by a professional. Nobody needs their heating system to malfunction or quit working in the dead of December when you need it most and emergency repairs are the most expensive.
• Wrap the water heater with an insulating blanket and keep the temperature set at 115 degrees.
• In many parts of the country homes are heated with oil. If this is the case, fill the oil tank late in the summer before prices begin to spike in anticipation of greater demand.
• Fireplaces are both charming and effective in helping to heat a home. Have the chimney swept annually, check to make sure the damper is functioning properly and buy a cord of wood in the early fall so it has time to dry out before it gets cold. A good idea for maximizing the efficiency of a fireplace is to install a Heatilator that forces heat produced by the fire into the room rather than up the flue.
• Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust for different temperatures during the day and night.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
• Install foam weather stripping around the sides and top of doors to help seal the doors from any cold air from seeping in or warm air from escaping. Add a door sweep to the bottom of the door.
• Replace any cracked or broken windows.
• In colder climates, swap screens for glass storm windows and doors which provide an extra barrier between the interior and exterior.
• Stretch plastic wrap or something similar across basement windows which will act as an extra layer of insulation.
ROOF AND GUTTERS
• Heat rises, rain and snow fall, so it is extremely important roofs are in good repair to keep the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. Check for warps, discolorations and/or missing shingles. Unless you’re a roofer, it’s best to call an expert to fix any potential problems.
• Have a professional roofer check all the flashing, the thin metal membrane that surrounds the base of the chimney and other protrusions that prevents water from seeping through any cracks, seams or joints and into the house where it can cause severe damage and mold.
• Check that gutters are properly secured and are cleaned of any debris left over from the fall. Check leaders for obstructions and make sure the water is directed away from and as far from the house as possible.
• Install shut off valves for water pipes that lead to exterior faucets and outdoor showers which are susceptible to freezing.
• Insulate any exposed pipes with inexpensive foam sleeves that can be purchased at any home supply store.
• Leave the heat on at 55 to keep pipes from freezing and to save money on re-heating an icebox cold house.
• If leaving for an extended period or closing up the house for the winter, drain the pipes. Many homes are severely damaged from pipes freezing and bursting during winter months. .
• Drain gas from lawn mowers or other gas powered yard things
• Wrap delicate shrubbery in burlap coats to protect from frostbite.
• Remove all debris from around the foundation of the house.
• Drain and store garden hoses in a dry location.
• Cover the air conditioner and drain and insulate any exposed pipes the lead from the air conditioning equipment to the interior of the house.
• Move delicate potted plants indoors
It never hurts to have some emergency supplies on hand in the event of a power outage or some other weather event. Stock up on candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, water, non-perishable foods, buy a battery or wind up radio, fill the propane tank or store an extra bag of charcoal for the bbq (in case the gas or electricity goes out), and keep a stash plastic cups, plastic eating utensils and paper napkins and dishes in case the water goes out.
Your Guide to Buying Energy Efficient Windows
Home Solar Power: Cost v. Savings
Daily Deduction: Energy Tax Credits
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.