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Prep Your Home for Winter

Published: December 2018

As the temperature drops and the chill in the air turns to frost, it’s time to turn your attention to ensuring your home is ready for winter. Much like your car, your home needs some preparation for the upcoming elements, too. Here are some tips to help make sure your abode is cozy, energy-efficient and safe as Old Man Winter makes his appearance

Video Transcript

When the leaves begin to fall and the cold winds blow, it’s time to prepare your home for the winter months to come.

The following tips can help keep your house cozy and energy-efficient, through the winter season.

Before snow starts falling, give your snowblower a checkup and fill it with fresh gas, unless it’s electric.

To keep your exterior door locks from freezing or sticking in extreme cold, consider spraying them with powdered-graphite lubricant.

To keep pipes from freezing and bursting, you may need to shut off the water to exterior faucets and drain the lines. Also consider insulating any pipes near the exterior walls of your home or in unheated areas like a garage.

Now it's time to move your winter prep efforts inside. Start with the chimney. To help reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide buildup, you may want to get it inspected and cleaned by a professional.

Your ceiling fans can help circulate warm air down from the ceiling in the winter. Just switch the direction of the ceiling fan blades to spin clockwise and run on a low speed.

Before you begin using your furnace on a daily basis, consult a technician for a tune-up. This may help prolong the furnace's life and save you money.

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On the Inside:

Reverse Your Fans
You may not often think about your ceiling fan blades, but come winter, you should. Turns out, if you switch the direction of the ceiling fan blades to spin clockwise and run on a low speed, you can gently circulate warm air down from the ceiling, according to EnergyStar.gov.

Maintain Your Chimney
If you have a working fireplace, get your chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a pro to help decrease the risk of fire from buildup or blockages, says the Chimney Safety Institute of America. These yearly inspections may also help to prevent carbon monoxide intrusion.

Adjust the Temperature on Your Water Heater
While making home adjustments, consider lowering the temperature on your water heater. Most are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit as a default, but some households only need a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for comfort. A lower temperature may also reduce wear and tear on the pipes, and according to the Department of Energy (DOE), save you as much as $30 per year for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature is lowered.

Tune Up Your Furnace
When it’s time to crank up the heat, you want to be sure it’s running properly. Consult a technician for an annual tune-up before the system requires daily use, says This Old House. If you haven’t already, install (or pay a pro to install) a programmable thermostat that can automatically lower the temperature when people aren’t home. You may save as much as 10 percent a year on heating, according to EnergyStar.gov.

Block Drafts
This winter, you don’t want cold drafts making their way into your living room. Use weatherstripping, window film and caulk to help control heat loss around doors, windows and baseboards. According to the DOE, a reduction in drafts may save up to 30 percent in energy costs per year. And if your home has storm doors, remove the screens and replace them with the glass panels

On the Outside:

Get Your Snow Blower Ready
Consult the owner’s manual and give your snow blower a thorough pre-season checkup. Be sure to fill up your blower with fresh gas, unless you have an electric model, and check the tire pressure, says Consumer Reports.

Close Your Pool
Pool season has come to an end until next year, it’s time to clean out any leaves, insects, dirt and other debris, and drain most of the water. Angie’s List offers some tips for winterizing your pool.

Prevent Pests
When it’s cold out, pests may seek shelter in a warm home. And, according to PestWorld.org, a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime. This means you’ll want to seal any holes and cracks (even the tiny ones) around the exterior of your home to help ensure pests like mice can’t get inside.

Avoid a Burst Pipe
Water freezing in your home’s pipes may cause serious problems. To help combat this, shut off the water to exterior faucets and drain the lines, FairfaxCounty.gov advises. You’ll also want to insulate any pipes near the exterior walls of your home or in unheated areas like a garage, says Consumer Reports.

Prevent Frozen Locks
If you’ve ever been stuck outdoors in below zero weather trying to get inside your toasty abode, you know the importance of lock de-icer. Spray exterior door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant, which you can buy at your local hardware store, to help keep them from freezing and sticking in extreme cold, says REALTOR® Magazine.

With these winterizing tips, your home may be a little cozier and safer, all while you save some money, too. Be prepared for the chilliest time of year, so you can sit back and watch the snow fall from your warm, winter-ready home.

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Our pages are filled with helpful tips and information about the topics that most of us face in our everyday lives. We focus on safety and maintenance issues with regard to your home, auto, apartment, motorcycle, boat, small business, finances and more. Please recognize that a particular tip may not be effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate for you and your property and always consider safety.
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