Winter weather is here in full force, and while we in Houston and are fortunate not to have to prepare for extreme cold or snow, there are still a few things that every smart homeowner should do to get their house ready for winter.
Here is a quick list of what to look for when preparing for the colder days ahead!
Check Your Chimney
Before you start roasting chestnuts on an open fire, make sure your fireplace is clean. It’s recommended that chimneys are cleaned and inspected annually, although if you have gas logs you may be able to go a little longer as they make a lot less mess than a traditional wood-burning fire. Chimney sweep Groupons abound, so getting your fireplace cleaned and checked for potential safety hazards won’t break the bank. A dirty or damaged chimney can lead to a fire that spreads to the roof or the rest of your home, so don’t skip on this important task!
Protect Your Pipes
In order to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting on exceptionally cold days, make sure you have all of your outdoor spigots and exposed water pipes wrapped up. You can buy pipe insulation at any hardware store for a few dollars, and it takes only a moment to cut it to length and place the foam tube around the exposed parts of your piping. If you have a lot of landscaping that isn’t well suited to cold weather, you may also want to plan ahead and find blankets to cover the delicate plants with on cold nights so that they survive the winter.
HVAC Tune Up
Consider having a professional HVAC tune up done by a reputable service company. This will include checking your furnace assemble, lubricating any moving parts, cleaning ignition, elements, and heat exchanger, checking gas supply for leaks, and making sure your system is operating as it should be. You’ll also need to change your air filters to help the system work more efficiently and prevent dust build up. Furnaces are very expensive to replace, so it’s best to maintain them and catch any potential problems before they ruin your furnace.
Keep your heating bills down by checking the weatherstripping around your windows and doors and replacing it if you feel a draft. When you have cold air constantly coming inside, your heating system will have to work harder to keep up. If you live in an older home with the original single-pane windows, you may eventually want to replace them with more energy-efficient modern windows that provide more protection from the weather. Heavy drapes or blinds also offer some protection from cold air coming through closed windows. The majority of heat loss takes place in the attic, so make sure you have enough insulation and add more if needed.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you don’t already have one, a programmable thermostat is a worthwhile upgrade. It keeps your home warm when you need it and prevents the system from running all day when you don’t. Some models (such as Nest) can “learn” when you need the temperature to be adjusted and cater to your needs automatically, saving you on the electric bill.
Don’t Forget Outside
While you’re at it, take care of your outdoor items! Prepare materials to wrap up plants when cold weather strikes so you don’t have to make any last-minute runs to the store in icy weather. Bring in your bbq pit, outdoor furniture, and other summer seasonal items and store them in the garage if possible. If not, cover them to protect from the cold. If you have a gas grill, disconnect the propane and close the valve if you won’t be using the grill for a while. Clean and maintain lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other lawn equipment before storing them for the winter.
With these simple, inexpensive tasks completed, your home will be ready for winter and you can relax by the fire without a care. Now the only thing to worry about is what kind of hot chocolate you want to make!