9-Step Home Winterization Checklist

Winter is coming; is your house ready? We prepare ourselves for the winter by purchasing warmer clothes or installing snow tires on our vehicles, but many of us don’t think about preparing our homes as well.

Still, just like anything else, your house is affected by cold weather and snow. By working through this simple, nine-step home winterization checklist, you can help keep your home warm and safe while keeping your energy bills low.

Step 1: Check On Your Heating System

Your first order of business, when getting ready for the impending cold snap, is to ensure you’ll have heat when the chill arrives.

If you haven’t run your heating system in a while, turn it on to make sure everything is functioning correctly. Additionally, it’s wise to:

  • Clean air filters and vents: To safely clean your filters and vents, make sure your heating system is off. Then unscrew the duct covers and vacuum the ducts as much as possible. You can also use a broom or a brush to clean the vent.
  • Perform seasonal maintenance: Getting your furnace tuned up is a great way to prepare it for the winter season. Not only can you identify signs that your furnace is malfunctioning and can prevent long-term problems and wear-and-tear on your unit, but a tune-up will also help your system run more efficiently, allowing you to save money on your heating bills.
  • Check for carbon monoxide: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 450 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. And, more than 500,000 visit the emergency room due to exposure from the gas. The odorless, tasteless, and invisible gas can come from any piece of equipment in your home that uses gas, oil, coal, charcoal, and wood fuels. When you start your heating system up for the first time this year, it’s important to test it for carbon monoxide leaks. To test, you can call in an expert to perform an indoor air quality test or a combustion analysis. You can also purchase a carbon monoxide gas detector from a home improvement store.

Step 2: Seal Drafty Windows and Doors

If you feel drafts in your home, your money could be going right out of the window – literally. Drafty windows and doors allow heated air to escape your home and cold air to enter it, which can increase your monthly heating bill by up to 25%.

To block drafts from coming through your windows and doors, consider adding the following material to door and window frames:

Some homeowners also use insulated curtains as extra reinforcement for window drafts.

If you’re unsure where the leaks are coming from, an energy audit can identify where leaks are occurring, and professionals can properly seal them in a matter of minutes.

Step 3: Winterize Your Air Conditioner

Have you taken proper measures to protect your air conditioner against the harsh winter?

Cleaning and covering the condensing unit staves off the damage that can be done by wet leaves and debris which can accelerate rusting or cause freezing in your AC unit’s internal components.

Protecting your equipment means that when warmer months come around, your AC will be functioning properly.

Step 4: Check Your Roof 

If your roof shows signs of aging, not only will your heating bills increase this winter, but you may also be prone to leaks and water damage that can set you back some serious cash in repairs.

To see if your roof is winter-ready, check for:

  • Missing or damaged shingles
  • Flashings around chimneys for spots that may be prone to leaks
  • Moss, mold or rot which can indicate your roof has water damage

If anything looks awry, have repairs made immediately to secure your home for heavy snowfall.

Step 5: Replace Screen Windows and Doors

Take the time to remove all of the screen windows and doors in your house and replace them with storm windows and doors.

Besides adding a layer of insulation, and helping reduce air leaks, storm windows help protect your primary windows from winter elements, which screen windows would allow in.

Step 6: Test Your Generator

If the power goes out in the middle of winter, it’s critical to be prepared to protect your family and your home. Many Northeasterners invest in a generator for a backup power supply in case the storms get too intense.

Before winter strikes, test your equipment to make sure it’s functioning when you need it most. If you haven’t in a while, give your equipment routine maintenance.

  • Check the oil
  • Change the fuel
  • Clean the equipment

For more tips, read six ways to maintain your generator. 

Step 7: Get Your Chimney, Fireplace and Flue Serviced

If your home has a fireplace, you should get your chimney inspected annually. In addition to the energy benefits it offers, it is crucial for your family’s safety. Every year, 25,000 homes across the country suffer from fires due to poor chimney maintenance.

As a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild, Santa Energy can clean your chimney and inspect it for potential obstructions. We also check the chimney draft to ensure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly and inspect the brick inside your chimney for gaps and exposed walls that are susceptible to danger from rogue sparks.

Step 8: Protect Your Water Pipes

Protect your pipes from freezing this winter by insulating exposed piping, both inside and outside your home. Don’t overlook piping in your attic, basement, or crawl spaces that aren’t visible to you day-to-day.

To insulate the piping, wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then foam insulating sleeves (or more industrial material) to protect them from the winter weather.

If you plan to leave your home for the winter for an extended period of time, it’s always wise to consider shutting off your water altogether to avoid and costly mishaps from frozen pipes or water damage.

Additionally, if you have a sprinkler system at your home, make sure to also blow the water out of their pipes as well to reduce cracking in your system.

Step 9: Make Your Home Energy Efficient

There are several small adjustments you can make to your day-to-day habits and home upkeep that will decrease your energy bills, even more, this winter. For example:

  • Hot water use: Install hot water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators to lower your energy use
  • Unplug from power: When you’re not using appliances, make sure to unplug them from the wall to cut down on energy costs
  • Excess power usage: Turn off your T.V., and the lights in rooms you’re not in to save energy
  • Upgrade your energy: Change your light fixtures to LED light bulbs for cost savings

For more recommendations to optimize your home’s energy, or for more winterization tips, consider the following resources:

 

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