As beautiful as the fall leaves are and as much as I enjoy the crisp autumn air and sipping on hot cider I can’t help but look at these as just a precursor to the cold weather that is headed our way. And while I have already drug my sweaters out of storage and stashed an extra set of gloves in my car it is also time to get my house ready for the inevitable cold, snow, and falling temperatures. Here are a few tips that I have picked up over the years for getting your home winter ready.
* Protect Your Pipes: This should be done even before the first frost. Simply remove your garden hose from the spigot and then locate and close the shut-off valve (usually located in the garage). You also will want to keep the outside spigot open to allow it to drain.
* Inspect Your Outlets: Behind the outlets in your wall there is very little (if any) insulation which can allow a draft to flow through these areas. The simplest and most cost effective solution is to remove the cover plate, add an insulating gasket (usually costs about 10 cents) and then reattach the cover plate. It is as easy as that and can save on average about $30 per year on your utility bill.
* Clean the Chimney: This should be done regularly if you use your fireplace but I highly recommend hiring a trusted professional to do this job. Not only is this a basic home maintenance issue but keeping it clean of soot and debris helps to protect you from house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
* Insulate Basement Pipes: Wrapping hot water pipes found in the basement or crawl space with insulation can save you money on your utility bill as well as help the shower heat up quicker in the winter.
* DON’T Cover Your AC: Many places sell covers or products to “help protect” your exterior AC compressor but in actuality these products lead to rust and potential animal infestations. These units are built to withstand the elements.
* Get Your Trees Pruned: It is ideal to have your trees trimmed up before the snow hits. By doing this you can help reduce the possibility of over-grown or dead limbs being covered in ice and snow crashing down. This is especially essential if any of these limbs branch over your house, driveway, or power lines.
* Fill In All Gaps: Keeping the outside weather outside is the key to keeping your house snuggly and warm. The best way is to seal up any and all cracks or gaps leading to the outside with an insulating spray. Check your attic, basement, around windows and doors, and outlets.