You may not be thinking about the cold months that are fast approaching, but now is the time to begin preparing our homes for the seasons ahead. There are a few things that we do for our old colonial house each and every September, so that we are better prepared for saving energy and money during Fall and Winter. Winterizing one's home is a matter of making some appointments, checking a few things and fixing what needs to be fixed before it's too late.
Go through this checklist of tips and begin scheduling that heater tune-up. Plan a visit to your local hardware store to pick up a few supplies and get your home prepared for the months ahead.
Winterizing Your Home Checklist
- Heating System: give your heaters a tune-up and have them checked by a professional, by replacing filters, vacuuming the entire system and running the heater several times to make sure it's fully functional. Make any necessary repairs.
- Storm Windows: if you have old, drafty windows, it's a good idea to install storm windows to protect your house from the cold winds & temperatures of Fall & Winter. Newer windows have a double-paned construction which provides adequate insulation.
- Window Insulation: open all of your windows and check the undersides for proper weather sealing. Strips of insulation can easily be cut and applied for a snug fit if you find that your windows are lacking any weather stripping.
- Door Drafts & Insulation: check every doorway of your home for drafts or for any shifts which might make a doorway drafty. Make necessary adjustments. If your doorways are still drafty, place draft-stoppers where they are needed.
- Clean Your Drain Spouts & Gutters: this is important during the Fall when all of the deciduous leaves begin to come down. If you have exposed gutters, do this several times during the Fall, and consider installing a wire-mesh ball at the entrance of each spout.
- Program Your Thermostat: if you have a dial thermostat, it may be a good idea to upgrade to a digital thermostat so that you can program it. This is especially important if you're away during the day or if you leave on vacation. The last thing you want is to experience frozen pipes while you're away.
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fans: change the direction of the fan's rotation and operate it on low speed in the clockwise direction. This will create an updraft and redirect the warm air along the ceiling back into the room.
Last year, we did an inspection of all of our windows and found that a couple of them were lacking in weather stripping. Do you see the exposed wood on the underside of this window? That is not what you want your windows to look like.
Buy this self-stick weather seal and cut it to size so that it fits underneath your window(s).
It comes in different widths and lengths, and is easy to install.
When you close a window that's properly sealed, you should feel that cushion clamp down when you lock the window. No more drafts!
Upon inspection of our front doorway, we found that the weather stripping was completely shot, and we also noticed that the door had shifted over the years. That bottom metal door frame needed to be adjusted by about a centimeter to lock the door closer to the door jamb. This minor adjustment and the installation of new weather stripping has made a huge amount of difference. We no longer feel a draft in the center hall of our colonial.
Make an inspection of the gutters, shingles and roofline of your home. Our home has two styles of gutters. The front and back rooflines of the colonial have enclosed gutters which don't need to be cleaned. The annex, however, has exposed gutters which have to be cleaned on a yearly basis.
Do you see those holes along the roofline by the attic? They were made by eager woodpeckers over the years, so we had to do something about it. Leaving something like this unattended can create problems once it begins to snow in the winter.
Another thing we did was replace some damaged siding along the annex of the home (this was then painted to match the rest of the house).
Don't forget to cover your air conditioning unit once you stop using it, to keep it free of leaves in the fall and of snow in the winter!
A good thermostat is very important. Keep the ambient air in your home at a certain temperature during the day and then change it in the evening before going to bed. If you're away, program it so that it can be done automatically. This alone can save your household a good amount of energy.
My kitties love to snuggle up in their beds or lie down on a warm blanket for a quick nap. No matter where they are in our home, they are never cold or uncomfortable in the Fall or Winter.
I hope that all of you begin to make the necessary preparations in and around your home for the months ahead. These are all tasks that can be accomplished in the coming weeks, and most of them can be done by the handy member of your household. Saving energy, keeping one's family warm in the cold months and having a home primed for inclement weather, are all touchstones of good homekeeping.