5 Foolproof Tips to Get Your House Ready for Winter

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Charlotte Granville is a Home Remodeling Specialist at Fixr.com, a website that offers home improvement cost guides and connects homeowners with service professionals. She analyzes and writes about the home improvement sector and interior design trends.

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, preparing your home for the cold season becomes as much of a priority as taking care of yourself. It isn’t just about comfort; it’s about ensuring your home is safe, efficient, and ready to handle whatever winter throws your way.

So, let’s look at five essential tips for getting your house ready so that you can relax and enjoy the winter weather outside, knowing your home is well-prepared and resilient. 

1. Make Sure Your Heating Works

couple snuggled next to fireplace wearing socks

Don’t wait for the first frost to find your heating system on the fritz. Schedule a professional inspection and servicing for your furnace or boiler before winter sets in. This proactive step ensures your system is in top shape for the cold months and helps prevent any mid-winter breakdowns.

You’ll also want to consider replacing or cleaning your heating system’s filters. This will not only boost its performance but can also enhance the air quality in your home. It’s a small task with a big impact, especially during months when you spend more time indoors. And while you’re at it, take a quick tour of your home to make sure all your vents and radiators are free from obstruction. That cozy armchair or elegant drape might be inadvertently blocking the flow of warm air to the rest of the room.

Bonus tip – consider your hot water needs: You may also want longer and hotter showers in the winter, so your hot water tank will need some attention, too. Upgrading to a solar water heater can be smart, offering both environmental and economic benefits. Solar water heaters are an excellent way to reduce energy bills while still enjoying all the hot water your household needs. 

2. Keep Your Roof in Check

Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against the harsh winter weather, so start by inspecting for any visible signs of damage. This includes looking for missing or broken shingles, which can leave your home vulnerable to leaks during winter storms. While not always the most affordable task, any roof repairs are best left to a professional. Getting these issues fixed promptly and efficiently can save you from more costly repairs in the future.

You’ll also want to check your gutters to make sure they’re clean and clear. This step is crucial in preventing water buildup and the dreaded ice dams, which can cause significant damage to your roof and the gutters themselves.

Bonus tip – trim overhanging tree branches: Take a look around your home for any tree branches that might be hanging a little too close for comfort over your roof. Snow and ice sometimes weighs down branches, causing them to break and potentially damage your roof. A little trimming can go a long way in preventing this type of damage. It’s one of those simple steps that might save you a big headache later.

3. Pack Up Your Outdoor Furniture

Before you bid farewell to your outdoor furniture for the winter, give it a good cleaning. This simple act can prevent damage and wear, ensuring your furniture is ready for use when spring rolls around. Whether it’s a wicker chair or a metal table, a proper cleaning can extend its life and keep it looking great.

Delicate items like cushions and umbrellas might also need extra care. Move them to a dry storage area or use protective covers. This will help prevent mold, fading, and other damage that can occur from exposure to the winter’s harsh elements.

Bonus tip – secure any items you can’t store: For those larger pieces that have to remain outside, you’ll need to securely cover and anchor them. This helps to prevent them from being damaged or turned into unintentional winter projectiles by strong winds. Think about using specially designed outdoor furniture covers that can withstand the rigors of cold winter weather.

4. Protect Your Pipes

One of the most common winter woes is frozen pipes. To prevent this, insulate pipes in unheated areas like basements, attics, and garages. Proper insulation can be a real game-changer, keeping your pipes safe from freezing temperatures that can lead to bursts and costly water damage.

During extremely cold snaps, you might need to keep a trickle of water running through your faucets. This constant flow can prevent water from freezing inside your pipes, and although this may increase your water bills slightly, it will be worth preventing the costs of repairing a burst pipe.

Bonus tip: Know where your shut-off valve is. In case of an emergency, like a burst pipe, knowing the location of your main water shut-off valve will be a big help. This knowledge can prevent a minor mishap from becoming a major catastrophe. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the valve is and how to turn it off.

5. Get an Energy Audit

The first step to a more energy-efficient home this winter is getting a professional energy audit. This comprehensive assessment will pinpoint where your home is losing energy and recommend the best ways to make improvements. Following the inspector’s recommendations can lead to significant savings on your energy bills.

One of the key findings from an energy audit might be the need to update or top-up your home’s insulation. There are various types of insulation, like fiberglass, foam, or blown-in, each with its costs and benefits. Choosing the proper insulation for your home can significantly reduce heating costs and improve energy efficiency. It’s an investment that pays off in both comfort and savings.

Another common issue revealed in energy audits is the presence of cracks or leaks. These can be found around windows, doors, and even in less obvious places. Repairing and sealing these leaks is a cost-effective way to prevent heat loss and keep the cold air out.

Bonus tip: reverse your ceiling fans. This simple yet often overlooked tip is to reverse your ceiling fans as the seasons change. By turning them clockwise in the winter, you push warm air that rises back into your living spaces. This small adjustment can make a noticeable difference in your comfort and energy consumption.

Be Prepared For the Worst

As the season changes rapidly and winter is soon to be on our doorstep, remember: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. As well as taking these measures, it’s generally recommended to have a plan for any winter emergencies. Keep space heaters on hand, making sure everyone knows how to use them and prepare all the necessary tools for snow and ice removal so they’re ready and easily accessible during unexpected snowfalls or icy mornings.

It might also be wise to gather some extra cozy blankets and warm clothes, especially if you’re expecting a particularly cold winter in your area. By following these tips and preparing for emergencies, you’ll not only protect your home from the cold but also enjoy a snug and secure winter season.

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