Winter is upon us. That could mean different things depending on what region of the world you’re in. Perhaps you live in an area that gets large amounts of snow during the winter. Or perhaps you’re fortunate to live in a more southern region where snow is less common.
Either way, there are simple measures you can put in place to minimize weather hazards and conserve energy and resources as you buckle down for the winter.
Responsible homeowners will want to budget their expenses. That’s why anticipating as many winter-born issues and problems within your home as possible can benefit you tremendously in saving on possible future repair costs down the road.
Let’s dive into a few of the best opportunities available to us as we brace ourselves for the winter months.
1. Winterize Outdoor Appliances, Vehicles, and Tools
It’s important to remove anything out of the garage or shed that can be damaged or warped from cold temperatures.
You should remove most canned sprays (Like spray paints, varnishes, and insect repellents) and liquid paint cans and store them in your basement during the winter months to prevent them from getting warped and compromised. Be sure to take care that you’re not bringing any liquids or sprays into the house that emit toxic fumes, as those should remain in the garage or shed.
Unplug electrical devices connected to a battery (like with lawnmowers) to prevent the battery from draining and getting damaged during the cold months.
Also, add gas stabilizer agents to the tanks of any gas-powered tools or vehicles that won’t be used during the winter. This will prevent the gasoline from gumming up the inside and lengthen the life of the machine.
2. Plumbing Maintenance
Ensure that water pipes are properly insulated and protected from freezing conditions in order to prevent them from bursting.
You can quickly identify which pipes are most at risk by noticing any exposed pipes protruding outside of the home. These can then be wrapped with an insulative foam to help keep them from freezing.
Also, perform an inspection of your sump pump if you have one. It’s always wise to invest in a backup pump for the inevitable day that your current pump fails on you.
You may even want to look into acquiring an emergency backup generator in the event that you lose power. This will allow your sump pump to continue operating, relieving you of having to bail water from the sump pump manually.
3. Switching to LED Lighting
Since daylight on winter days tends to be shorter, that means that your house will get darker sooner, eventually leading to having lights on for longer durations on an average day.
One method of conserving electricity is to migrate all of your in-house light bulbs over to LED bulbs. These can provide stronger lumen output and are vastly more energy efficient, making them longer lasting and more affordable to leave on.
Not only will this be great for your home, but it can be great for you too! Many people get depressed and lethargic in the winter, suffering from low energy. Consistent lighting in your home can help you manage stress and keep a regular sleep schedule — both great ways to boost your energy levels during those cold winter months.
4. Heating Systems Routine Inspections
No matter the heat source in your home, be it a boiler, furnace, electric, or wood burning, it’s wise to inspect all heat shafts and componentry to make sure they’re in peak operating condition going into the winter.
Annual gas furnace inspections can help curb potential problems that could save you thousands of dollars in having to replace a failed furnace.
Dusting off electric radiative heating units in your home can minimize the risk of dust-caught fires as well as reduce the initial nasty smell of burning dust when you kick on your heat for the first time each season.
5. Weatherproof The Exterior
It’s important to pack in the heat in your home, minimizing any pockets of cold air.
Going over every window and door in your home, checking for cold air drafts, and then blocking them will save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs to maintain heat.
It’s also important to anticipate where possible ice damming can occur on the roof and address it. Ice damming can be terrible for a roof. It can lead to compromised structural integrity and inevitable leakage.
Some homeowners will resolve to place women’s stockings filled with road salt into the gutters to help melt snow and ice before it builds up too much. A more costly but very effective method is installing heated wire right at the edge of the roof where damming is most likely to occur. It’s also worth placing heat wire over door thresholds to minimize snow and ice where there’s heavy foot traffic.
Now Go Prep!
Well, there you have it. A list of some actionable and approachable winter projects to check off!
Here’s one last bonus tip that could apply to you. If you’ve ever dealt with mice in the house, chances are that they’re weaseling their way in by some open gap or crevice in the foundation of your home.
Take the time to walk around outside of your house, inspecting the foundation and garage for any small holes or gaps that mice could use to enter your home and fill them with steel wool. Mice hate steel wool. Think of it as barbed wire, but for rodents. It’s difficult and painful for them to chew through, and they can’t squeeze through it, so they often end up leaving it alone. It can be a hugely effective measure in staving off unwanted mice in the house!