Winter can be hard on your home. It can also be hard on your budget. Heavy snow can cause pricey property damage and cold air can find its way inside your house, lowering the temperature and raising your heating bill.
Preparing your home for winter now can help you protect your biggest investment, increase your home’s energy efficiency, and save you money. Here are seven tips to start your winter storm preparedness and winterproof your home (and your finances):
- Weatherproof Your Doors and Windows
Want to know how to save on your heating bill? Plug air leaks. Poorly insulated points of entry send heat (and money) out the window – literally. Install weather stripping and a door sweep on exterior doors and window film insulation on windows, and caulk gaps in doors and windows to keep warm air in and cold air out. Keeping curtains drawn will also help keep heat in.
Not sure if your doors or windows are leaking air? Hold a lit candle in front of them. If there is a draft, the flame will start blowing toward you.
- Insulate Your Attic
Take a top-down approach to gaining more energy efficiency in your home. A poorly insulated attic can cause a house to lose a lot of heat (and you to lose a lot of money). Install new insulation or look for leaks in or around existing insulation, then seal those leaks with caulk or expanding foam. This will make your house much easier (and less expensive) to heat.
- Do Outdoor Maintenance
Winter storm preparedness should start ahead of the winter season. Walk around your home looking for exterior cracks and holes, and if you find any, plug them with caulk or expanding foam. Turn off outdoor water sources if the forecast calls for temperatures below 32 degrees. Remove weak tree limbs that may not be strong enough to hold snow or ice.
- Maintain Your Furnace and Water Heater
Home pros know how to save on their heating bills – they keep their furnace and water heater in great working order. Take a tip from them and get your furnace serviced by a professional every year or two depending on its age, and replace its filters regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This will save you money on your heating bill and increase your furnace’s efficiency.
Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees. That’s still hot enough for daily activities like showering and doing laundry, but it’ll save you some money. Add insulation and flush the tank annually to further increase efficiency and decrease costs.
- Keep Pipes From Freezing
Burst pipes are a common – and costly – winter emergency. Depending how bad the damage is, burst pipes can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to fix. Avoid the aggravation and the expense by covering exposed pipes with pipe insulation, which can be bought cheaply at a hardware store.
Pipes in unheated areas like garages and basements are most vulnerable to freezing temperatures. On especially cold nights, let cold water drip through at-risk pipes to reduce their risk of freezing. Always keep your thermostat set to 55 degrees or higher, even when you’re away from the house, to prevent burst pipes.
- Install a Smart Thermostat
Do you struggle to remember to turn the temperature down at night or when you leave the house? If so, a programmable smart thermostat is a great energy-efficiency tool that could save you a lot of money by turning it down for you and allowing you to adjust it from anywhere using your phone.
- Be Ready for Storms
If you wait until there’s snow in the forecast to run to the store, you’ll be stressed out, selection will be poor, and everything will be more expensive.
Before temperatures dip below freezing, increase your winter storm preparedness by making sure you have at least one sturdy shovel, rock salt to de-ice your steps, driveway, and sidewalk, and plenty of warm clothes and waterproof boots.
During a snowstorm, shovel and remove snow and ice from your home and property periodically to prevent it from causing costly damage and to prevent yourself or others from falling, which could result in costly medical bills or homeowner’s insurance claims.
Get Your Home Ready for Winter
Some home improvement projects, like installing better installation or buying a new furnace, can make your home more comfortable, increase its energy efficiency, and save you money. Others, like remodeling a kitchen or finishing a basement, can give you a cozy place to relax on a cold day.
If you’re considering a home improvements project, the time to do it is before winter weather hits. Dover Federal Credit Union can help, with a personal loan, a fixed-rate Home Equity Loan or a variable-rate Home Equity Line of Credit. Learn more and apply today.