Cold air, wet weather, and festive holidays mean that winter is nearly upon us. Getting your home ready for the colder season ensures that you can enjoy your vacation time, save some money, and stay safe while you’re doing it. Here are some tips for preparing your home and your family for the winter months.
Put together an emergency kit for blackouts.
From inclement weather to downed poles, winter is filled with factors that could lead to a power outage. Aside from being a real annoyance, winter power outages can prove dangerous, cutting visibility and heating all at once. Often, the power outages are localized, meaning you’ll only be stuck in the dark for a few hours, but others could be more widespread, leading to several days without power.
To prepare for the worst, make sure you have an emergency kit that is stocked with everything you need to survive a blackout. That should include:
- Plenty of rechargeable or battery-powered flashlights
- A battery-powered radio
- A car charger for your phone
- A first-aid kit
- A pocket knife or multi-tool
- Enough nonperishable food and water for each person in your family for at least 72 hours
- Plenty of books, board games, coloring books, and other forms of unplugged entertainment
Clean out your gutters.
With all the leaves and dirt that have built up in your gutters from summer and autumn, now is as good a time as any to clean those gutters out. Aside from making your home’s exteriors much tidier, cleaning out your gutters keeps your drainage system working properly. Clogged gutters may collect rain water, which will only freeze in colder weather. The resulting ice dams can lead to water leaking into your house, which leads to mold, immense energy costs, and other problems.
Have your home inspected for any potential air leaks and drafts. Leaks work two-fold to ruin your comfort and energy bill by letting cold air in and letting all your warm air out, forcing your heater to work doubly hard to maintain the set temperature. Use simple caulk to patch up any cracks or holes in your walls and foundation. Use weather stripping to seal up the areas around windows, doors, and other elements that move.
Check your ventilation
Leaks in your air ducts can account for up to 20 percent of the leaks in your central heating system. Change out any filters and make sure your vents are properly sealed and insulated.
Light your home properly.
With the days getting shorter, make sure all the lights inside and outside your home are in proper working order to prevent any accidents or falls. If you plan to decorate for the holidays, stick with LED fairy lights to save energy without sacrificing any festive cheer.
Take care of your pipes and plumbing.
The water inside your pipes can potentially freeze during colder weather, leading to burst pipes. To prevent your pipes from freezing over, drain any outdoor faucets and garden hoses. In-ground sprinkler systems need to have all the water inside of them blown out. You’ll likely need to have your plumber do this.
Inside the house, identify any pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have otherwise exhibited problems in past winters. Wrap them with heat tape during extra cold weather to keep them warm. In the event that one of your pipes does burst, make sure you and every able-bodied member of your family knows the location o your home’s main shut off valve.
Take care of your furnace and fireplace.
Clean your furnace out, preferably in autumn, before you actually need to turn it on. Any dust, dirt, and sediment that has built up in the furnace will, at best, keep it from heating your home properly. At worst, that sediment could pose a fire hazard. Once winter actually hits, change your filter regularly to keep the air flowing properly.
If you have a fireplace, make sure to have it checked out before winter. Hire a professional to clean and inspect your chimney. Remember to keep the damper closed when you don’t have a fire going.