1. Service the Heating System
Whatever heating system you use, it’s the central focus point of your winter comfort and the one that demands the most attention and money. Make sure your system is working long before the cold creeps up. Change any filters and make sure regular servicing is up to date, for instance, duct cleaning. If you use oil heat, get the oil tank filled. It’s the most important task to prepare your home for winter.
2. Protect Pipes to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Frozen pipes are a common cause of cold weather damage and costly repairs. If you live in an area where frozen pipes are common, prepare your home for winter by making sure your pipes are adequately insulated. Basement and crawl space pipes should be wrapped with insulation.
On very cold nights, open cabinets so warm air can reach your pipes and let water drip slowly from your faucets. Keep the heat on in the house even if you are away.
Don’t forget about outside pipes like lawn sprinklers. Make sure they are well-drained and turned off.
3. Seal Leaks and Cracks
Sealing leaks and cracks can prevent drafts, keeping you warmer and helping your heating system perform more efficiently. Most cracks are around windows and doors. Update as needed with caulking and weather stripping. Other entry points to check for drafts are around pipes, air-conditioner window units, and utility connections.
4. Make Use of the Sun
If you have any south-facing windows, open curtains and blinds during the day to take advantage of a little solar energy. The sun’s heat will ease the burden on your heating system. Be sure to close them after the sun goes down.
5. Check the Water Heater
Cold air can reduce the efficiency of your water heater. Use a special water heater blanket to wrap around it for insulation. This extra layer helps the water maintain a constant temperature and keeps your unit from losing heat.
6. Inspect the Roof and Gutter System
Prepare your home for winter by making sure gutter systems are cleared out so precipitation like ice and snow can flow through them easily. Check your roof for loose or missing shingles, or even better, hire an inspector to perform a roof inspection.
If your roof requires repairs or replacing, it is best to get that done before winter. In some cases, a roof inspection requires assistance from a drone, so ask your home inspector if that is something he or she offers.
7. Prevent Ice Dams
If you noticed lots of icicles hanging from your eaves last winter, take steps now to prevent ice dams that can cause water to seep into your home as the ice melts. Ice dams can be caused by poor insulation in the attic or clogs in your gutters that allow stagnant water to freeze. Cleaning your gutters is one way to prevent ice dams.
8. Check the Chimney
Fireplaces are warm and comforting on cold days but they can also be fire hazards. Make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and in good condition. It’s a good idea to have your chimney inspected and cleaned before you begin using it this winter.
9. Reverse Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can do more than keep you cool in the summer. Reverse them to rotate from counterclockwise to clockwise in winter. The motion pushes warmer air downwards.
10. Prepare Emergency Kits
Prepare your home for winter with emergency kits for the house and for the car. Include first aid items, emergency water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, batteries, and a car phone charger. Make sure to have rock salt and a snow shovel on hand.