Winterwhat? Nobody summerizes unless that's what it's called when we renew our gym memberships in April?
Actually, though verbs ending in "ize" can often mean cranial, if not financial leaps - winterizing your home is easy. Why, though?
Winter weather can be surprising. How many times have you hauled your summer wardrobe back out of storage because rogue cold temps returned to such summery weather you ended up shoveling snow in your flip flops? Okay, flip flops with socks. Great look, neighbor.
When winter does descend upon you is of no consequence if you're prepared - for drafts, freezing pipes, a clogged chimney. All of these things can be pricey if your home is not functioning efficiently - not only in operating cost, but if needed repairs are left unattended, they can also cause expensive damage.
In the short span of a weekend you can probably offset the cost of cold while saving yourself hundreds of dollars in potential breakdowns that come from ignoring the impact of winter on your most major asset and investment - your house. Let's take a look at some easy, inexpensive steps for weatherproofing - winterizing - that asset, the place you call home.
There are several ways to protect against heat that you pay for from wafting right out of your pocket and into the neighborhood.
Draft Snakes are the easiest for doors and windows that don't completely seal. You've probably seen the cute versions that look like a super long dog, cat or other critter, usually filled with beans, rice, sand or pipe insulation/pool noodle material. The less attractive but cheaper alternative would be an old bath towel rolled up - use rubber bands to secure the roll. To make your own.
Weatherstripping doors and windows is maybe the next least expensive and low-labor way to keep your heat from escaping. It's a bit more technical than a draft snake but totally gets the job done. To see how.
Plastic shrink-wrap is a nearly invisible way to seal off leaks without the cost of adding actual storm doors and window to the home. This video shows you how easy it is to literally seal in the heat.
2. AIR CIRCULATION
Reversing your ceiling fans. How much more free and easy could it be? Switch the fan direction so it rotates clockwise. This pushes warm air down, forcing it to circulate throughout the room. Remember to switch it back again when it gets warm. Maybe this is "summerizing?"
Wrapping pipes. Yes, you may have to go into the basement and confront some dust and a few cobwebs. But this, too, is an easy-peasy job that reduces the heat on your boiler and can also reduce your gas bills, keep the pipes from freezing - costly repair - and get your hot water to the shower faster. Your hardware store will have pre-slit pipe-foam that you can cut to the desired length and fasten around your pipes with duct tape.
What's in the Attic? Junk, maybe and some insulation. If it's not enough though, heat is sneaking out. There should be a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. If you don't have it, add another layer - about 12 more inches of the thermal cotton candy.
4. WATER, SNOWFALL & ICE MANAGEMENT
Tree trimming. Make sure to cut back and trim tree branches that hang over eaves, gutters or parts of the roof. When laden with snow or ice, these can break off and cause costly damage to the exterior and interior of your house.
Clearing gutters. This is especially critical in the winter when accumulating ice and snow melt with no passage can form ice blockages on the roof that will block the way down of additional melting snow and ice. All of the frozen water that melts but has no way down can begin to seep into the house and cause major damage to the interior - to ceiling structure, furniture and flooring. To keep this from happening, clear out your gutters after the fall leaves drop to ensure clear water drainage.
Missing Roof Shingles. Drip. Drip. Drip. It's annoying and potentially damaging any time of year, but a leaky roof in the wintertime means water seeping in can freeze, cracking attic wood beams. High winds, age, hail damage? Use a drone or get a professional to check out the state of your roof. A little effort goes a long way to saving yourself from costly damage to your home.
5. FIRE PREVENTION
Chimney Check. Thousands of fires start in chimneys every year. If not deadly, this is a costly hazard to any home that needn't happen. Don't put your family and home at risk. A chimney sweep will look at the structure of your flue and remove combustibles and obstructions in the chimney. As welcoming as the glowing logs in your hearth can be - make sure it's safe before getting cozy.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors. No doubt, running furnaces and boilers at a hardcore pace from November to April means more household fires and instances of carbon monoxide poisoning. Check that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are powered up and working well.
6. Sprinkler Blowout. Sorry, it's not as fun as it sounds. However, if you're fairly handy you can do it yourself and if not it doesn't cost a lot. You want to do it so that ground-freeze doesn't freeze the water in your pipes, expand and crack them wide open and leave your system useless next summer until you pay someone to repair and replace burst pipes. We have an elderly neighbor who calls my husband to do it for her every fall. The good news is we get a pot of homemade chicken and dumpling soup in return! Here's a great video on how to DIY.
7. HVAC Furnace Inspection. For about a hundred bucks you can have someone come out to inspect and tune up your furnace. They will clean and replace air filters, check blower operation, clean the motor and fan, and inspect the gas piping to the furnace. Ensuring your furnace is working cleanly and efficiently means you're saving money on heating your house for the winter.
8. Protect your AC. Now is the time to give your AC unit a bit of TLC for the cool karma you want next summer. Make sure to drain pipes and hoses coming out of your system so they don't freeze in the winter. Clear out pools of water in the drain pan and definitely consider covering your units so that foul weather doesn't cause rust.
9. Wear A Sweater! Seconds from dialing our thermostat up to 80 degrees would come my mother's squawk "Why don't you put on a sweater?" Um, like who wears sweaters? Can't find one, makes me look fat, I'm not a yarn killer? Actually, dressing for the weather is a perfectly acceptable way to combat cold, keeping your heat bills down and possibly extending the life of your furnace. Snuggle. This is our favorite. Be sure to get snuggy with your loved ones this winter.