Winter tips for your home

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10 things to get your home ready for winter

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The calendar has officially turned to fall and many parts of the country may get their first frost this weekend. In no time we’ll have our first round of flurries and then the big wait for a serious snowfall.

Why not try to be a smarter homeowner this year and take some time now to get ahead of the coming cold weather and all the havoc it can wreak on your house and yard?

Here are 10 things that should be on your to-do list, to get your property ready for winter.

1. Order firewood. Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions on good sources in your community. Any hardwood, such as oak, maple, beech or elm, will work fine for firewood. You want seasoned firewood that’s at least a year old. Ash is the only wood that you can burn “green,” right after it’s cut down.

2. Clean gutters. If you can’t get on a ladder yourself, hire someone. Wait until all the leaves are down, then do it once (unless, of course, they’re already overflowing when it rains). So many water-in-the-basement problems are because of clogged gutters.

3. Get water away from the house. Same as above. Even if your gutters are clean, rainwater may be pouring down the leader pipes and emptying right at the corner of your house (and into the basement). You may need to hire someone to dig trenches and install underground drain pipes to pull roof water away from the house. Make sure that all landscaping is pitched away from the house.

4. Seal up masonry. Repair any broken joints or cracks in walkways, steps and stonework. Make sure you have clear, shovel-friendly paths to all doors.

5. Cut down on heating costs. Make your house more energy-efficient by adding insulation, caulking around windows and doors and new storm windows. Maybe you have enough sun and space for solar panels. Repair any cracked or broken windows.

6. Don’t rake your leaves. Instead, just leave them where they fall and run them over with a mulching lawn mower. You’ll be amazed at how one of these powerful machines can turn a pile of leaves into a million little pieces. Plus, they add valuable organic matter to your lawn. Similarly, leave grass clippings on the lawn.

7. Hire a chimney sweep. If you haven’t had your chimneys cleaned in a while, it’s probably time.

How often should you have your chimneys cleaned? “If you have 40 to 50 fires a winter, or about three times a week, you should clean it every year,” said Bob Pelaccio of the Mad Hatter Chimney Sweep in Montrose. If it’s a couple of times a week, every other year is fine. Only on Sunday? Then every third year will do.

Tedd Cuttitta of New City-based NY Fireplace Designs (and formerly High-Tor Chimney Sweeps) is more of a stickler for an annual checkup.

“According to every code in the world, chimneys should be cleaned or inspected on an annual basis,” he said. Even if they look fine, there may be internal water damage to the bricks that you can’t see.

“I never recommend that any of my clients go beyond every third year, no matter how infrequently they use their chimneys,” Cuttitta said.

8. Call in an arborist. Many winter tree catastrophes are preventable. Get a certified arborist to walk around your yard with you to look for rotting trees or damaged or dangling limbs that may come down in the next storm.

9. Get your furnace and boiler inspected. Instead of begging for service when your boiler blows on a dead-cold January night, sign a contract now with a reputable heating company. Many oil and propane suppliers are happy to bring you on board with an annual service contract. It’s worth it.

10. Time for a generator? Raise your hand if you spent a week in a dark, cold house after Superstorm Sandy tore through the Northeast. If a big storm is forecast or upon us, no one will have a generator with your name on it. So think long and hard now about whether it’s time to finally spring for one. But consider your neighbors, too, and where you’re going to put it. Generators are LOUD.

As the cold weather starts to arrive, it’s important to know the damage winter can do to your home and how you can prevent this.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the extreme freeze that hit the UK for a three-month period in 2018 resulted in insurers paying a record amount for burst pipes, a staggering £194 million!

It’s not just frozen pipes that can cause damage during winter. There are a few other precautions you should be taking to ensure your home stays in top condition as the weather gets colder. Follow these preventative steps to make sure your home is fighting fit…

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Roof insulation

It’s important to keep your roof well-insulated, especially during winter. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) warns that a quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home.

Getting loft insulation will not only keep more heat in your home, it will also bring down your energy bill. By opting for the recommended 27cm amount of loft insulation in your home, the EST estimates you could save…

  • £225 on your energy bill, per yer, in a detached house.
  • £135 on your energy bill, per year, in a semi-detached house.
  • £120 on your energy bill, per year, in a mid-terrace house.

Get a carbon monoxide alarm

Household appliances like fires, cookers, heaters and boilers that have been poorly installed or not well maintained could easily cause carbon monoxide leaks. Since 1 October 2015, it has been a legal requirement for private landlords to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and tested regularly, but even if you’re not a landlord, it’s worth getting one.

You can buy a CO alarm for around £15 from most DIY shops and larger supermarkets. It should be marked ‘EN 50291’ to show it adheres to the latest safety standards and bear the British Standards Kitemark.

You should also always make sure appliances are regularly serviced by registered engineers.

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Insulate hot water pipes

A burst hot water pipe can be a disaster, and winter months are when you’re most at risk.

Insulate your hot water pipes by using lagging, which you can get inexpensively from a DIY shop, to save you from a burst pipe.

Wrap up your hot water tank

This is another effective way to cut heat loss. You can purchase a British Standard Jacket for your hot water cylinder for under £20.

The EST advises that opting for water tank insulation that is 25mm to 80mm thick could save you around £20 a year, which is more than the cost of the jacket!

Compassionate Eye Foundation/David OxberryGetty Images

Get a smart meter

Smart meters help you to be more in the know about your heating, and how much it’s costing you to heat your home. They’ll show you how much energy you’re using, in real time, and how much gas and electricity you’re using in pounds and pence.

The gadget that comes with your smart meter may encourage you to use gas or electricity more sparingly in your home as you’ll be able to work out which devices guzzle the most energy. But it’s up to you to use them more efficiently to reap the financial benefits.

Clear the gutters

There’s only one thing the gutter is meant for, and that’s getting rainwater off the roof and down the drain. If it’s blocked, it won’t be able to do this.

You’ll be able to tell if you’ve got an issue if rainwater goes down the side of the house, or if there’s any discolouration on your walls. These blockages are frequently the result of fallen leaves, moss, or twigs from a bird’s nest. Water can cause damp and mould, so it’s essential to make sure rainfall can be effectively drained from your home.

If you have the time and knowledge to clear your own gutters, do it yourself rather than asking a professional. Research from Insulation Express found learning how to clean gutters yourself could make you a financial saving of £150 every time!

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Bleed your radiators

Bleeding radiators regularly will help keep your home warm. Air can get into the system and prevent it from being filled with water. Bleeding the radiator releases the trapped air.

Check that there’s still warm water in the system and then turn off the central heating. Locate the bleed valve on the radiator – it’s a small valve on the side of the radiator, near the top. You’ll need a bleed key to turn it, which you can buy from any DIY store. Turn it 180º anticlockwise to expel any air trapped in the system, which will then fill with water. When all the air has been expelled, it’ll start to drip water and you can close the valve.

Check that your boiler is in good condition

Looking after your boiler is essential, especially during the winter months. Should it fail and need to be replaced, this can cost up to £1,430, according to the Boiler Guide.

Before winter fully arrives, make sure yours is working properly. The older it is, the more inefficient it’ll be. This is because boilers lose pressure over time. Check the pressure gauge on the boiler – the instruction manual will explain how to do this, and how to adjust the pressure if needed. For other problems, ask your plumber or arrange for a professional to fix the boiler. You can check the Gas Safe Register to find a qualified engineer in your area.

Peter DazeleyGetty Images

Use heavier curtains

Around 40% of the heat escaping from your home is from uncovered windows.

You can stop this by using heavier, lined curtains in winter to properly insulate windows and limit where hot air can get out. This will also block the breeze from getting in

Make sure heat isn’t escaping through the chimney

A big cause of lost heat is an unused fireplace.

If you have a chimney you don’t use but you don’t want to board it up, you can use a chimney balloon. One of these should cost under £30 – they’re easy to inflate and will last for years. We recommend Chimney Sheep. We found it kept cold air out effectively and is fire resistant, so it’s not a total disaster if you accidentally leave it in place when setting a fire.

Cleaning essentials for autumn/winter

Dr Beckmann Carpet Stain Remover Dr. Beckmann amazon.co.uk £14.23 Vax Platinum Power Max Carpet Cleaner Vax argos.co.uk £249.99 Gutter Guard Filter Brush x 4 METRES gutterfilter.co.uk amazon.co.uk £14.99 sourcingmap Steel Flat Mill File, 8 inch Sourcingmap amazon.co.uk £11.79 Gtech Cordless Lawnmower 2.0 Gtech gtech.co.uk £499.99 e-cloth Window Cleaning cloths E-Cloth amazon.co.uk £7.54 HG Mould Spray – 500ml HG amazon.co.uk £5.47 Mac Allister Pressure Washer Mac Allister diy.com £128.00

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The winter season is drawing near which means sub-zero arctic-like temperatures, icy conditions, and a whole lot of snow. That’s why it’s time to start thinking about how to protect your home from any potential damage the frigid temperatures and snow may bring. Taking charge now, before it is too late, may help you avoid a home insurance claim later.

Winter home preparation guide

By the time winter arrives, your home should be ready for whatever tricks Old Man Winter may have up his sleeve. There’s nothing worse than having to deal with a leaky window, broken furnace or a burst pipe in the middle of winter. These eight tips and tricks will help prevent any unfortunate winter mishaps or water damage.

  1. For heat’s sake have your furnace professionally serviced. A routine maintenance check each autumn will help ensure your furnace is running properly and efficiently. Also, if you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable one to save money on heating costs.
  2. Inspect all windows and doors for leaks. In order to prevent heat loss, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. Check the weather-stripping around windows and door frames, and replace where necessary. Also check for drafts and caulk both inside and out where necessary, to keep the heat in and the cold out.
  3. Sweep the chimney. Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney and vents are clean and in good condition by having your chimney looked at by a professional. This will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from building up and finding its way into your home.
  4. Clean out your gutters. It’s important your eaves are free of any debris such as leaves, dirt and sticks. Clogged gutters prevent the draining of rain and melting snow which could result in household leaks. Also, make sure your downspouts extend away from your house by at least five feet to ensure that water runs away from your house and not towards it.
  5. Inspect the roof. While cleaning your eaves, inspect your roof for any missing, loose or damaged shingles. If your roof needs attention call a roofer to help you with the repairs or maintenance. Also ask them to look at the caulking around the chimney and air vents.
  6. Turn off any faucets outside. Water left undrained can freeze, which can cause the pipes to burst. Disconnect your garden house and drain the remaining water.
  7. Trim your bushes and trees. Make sure any overgrown bushes or trees are trimmed back away from your house and electrical wires. This will help decrease your risk of property damage and power problems.
  8. Pad exposed pipes in unheated areas. This is an easy and inexpensive method to help prevent water damage resulting from a frozen pipe. Even the smallest of pipes can cause a lot of damage. Pipes in the basement, attic or crawl space are some examples of pipes you may want to cover.

Taking the time to winter-proof your home is a small price to pay especially if it helps prevent damages. Now is also a good time to stock up on all the winter essentials too including salt, sand, and snow shovels. It won’t go to waste and you’ll need them before you know it.

Finally, don’t forget to winterize your car as well: winter tires and an emergency roadside safety kit will go a long way in ensuring you’re ready for the season ahead.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Heating costs can throw a wrench into your winter budget — and the cold can make you cranky. But you can limit the discomfort by addressing the gaps, cracks and waste that drive up fuel costs. Such fixes are available at a lower price than you might imagine.

Run through this checklist of fixes this fall to make your house cozier and heating more affordable as winter approaches.

1. Install weatherstripping

Check your home’s exterior doors for cold air leaks. Do this from inside the house. The high-tech approach is to use a laser infrared thermal gun to detect cold drafts. The low-tech way is to move a lit candle around the door frame; the flame will blow toward you when there is a draft.

Seal a drafty door by installing foam or felt weatherstripping inside the door frame. Ask at your hardware store for the correct products and installation instructions.

2. Install a door sweep

Use a door sweep to stop drafts from entering your home under an exterior door. A sweep is a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that’s held to the door’s lower edge by a strip of aluminum.

3. Seal attic air leaks

Find and seal gaps that could be allowing as much as 30% of your heated or cooled air to leak outdoors, HouseLogic says.

Pull back attic insulation to find and seal cutouts in drywall for electrical fixtures, pipes, fans and outlets. Also, check wiring, chimneys, flues, vent stacks and ducts, and seal them on the inside. Use caulk to fill smaller gaps and pressurized expanding foam for bigger openings.

4. Close the damper

Heated or cooled air flies up the chimney when you leave the fireplace damper open. Make it a habit to shut the flue after the fireplace has cooled.

5. Add attic insulation

Insulation keeps warm air inside in the winter and expensively cooled air inside in the summer.

“Typically, houses in warm-weather states should have an R-38 insulation in the attic, whereas houses in cold climates should have R-49,” says This Old House, explaining how to install batting-type insulation.

Insulating an attic, basement or crawl space is moderately difficult, and beginners should hire a professional. If you do, ask if you can perform parts of the job to reduce the cost.

Admittedly, insulating is not a cheap job. But the payback can be huge, and you may find rebates and financial incentives. See Energy.gov’s guide to sources and a calculator that can help you estimate the return on an insulation investment.

6. Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year on fuel costs, according to EnergyStar. The thermostat can save fuel by automatically lowering (or raising) your home’s temperature while you’re away. It also keeps temperatures consistent, saving fuel. Simple programmable thermostats — Lowe’s offers a few — start at about $50.

7. Set the temperature manually — and leave it

You can enjoy fuel savings for free simply by setting your thermostat to one temperature in the morning, another at night and otherwise leaving the thermostat alone. If you’re chilly, put on a sweater and warm socks instead of raising the heat.

EnergyStar.gov offers more tips on ways to save using a manual thermostat.

8. Seal furnace ducts

Heating ducts typically waste 20% to 30% of the heated air they carry, losing it to leaks and poor conduction, says EnergyStar. Leaky heating ducts mean higher utility bills and a house that’s harder to keep warm.

Appliances like water heaters and furnaces can cause the buildup of dangerous gases like carbon monoxide through a process called backdrafting, according to EnergyStar. Sealing leaks can reduce this risk — but before you start the job, ask a heating contractor whether you need to have a combustion safety test done first.

You won’t be able to reach all the ducts — some are hidden in walls, ceilings and floors. But you can improve performance by sealing exposed ducts in the attic, crawl space, unfinished basement and garage.

Focus on the places where ducts, vents and registers meet floors, walls and ceilings. Use mastic sealant or metal tape, which are more durable than duct tape, to seal the seams and connections.

9. Replace furnace filters monthly

Dirty furnace filters reduce furnace efficiency and push up heating bills. They also shorten the life of a furnace.

Check and replace the furnace filter monthly in winter or every three months while the system is in operation. Your owner’s manual will tell you where it’s located. Hold the filter up to the light: If you can’t see light through it, you need a new one.

Pleated filters work best because they trap more dirt particles.

10. Keep your furnace running smoothly

Servicing your furnace regularly helps you catch problems before expensive breakdowns, prolong the furnace’s life and keep it running more efficiently.

Newer furnaces need professional servicing every two years. Older units require annual servicing.

Check your furnace’s manual to see which specific steps are recommended. Ask friends and colleagues for names of good technicians. Find one or two you trust and stick with them.

11. Insulate the hot water heater

Save on fuel by wrapping older water heaters in a blanket of insulation, an easy DIY project that even a beginner can do. Your utility company has instructions. When insulating a gas or propane water heater, do not cover the burner access.

Do not insulate:

  • Pre-insulated water heaters. These are newer units with factory-installed insulation of R-16 or better (check the manufacturer’s label) under the metal shell.
  • Water heaters located where the added heat is welcome.
  • Water heaters whose manual or paperwork warns against insulating.
  • Tankless (on-demand) water heaters.

12. Lower the hot water temperature

Hot water heaters typically are set at 140 degrees. Lower the temperature on yours to 120 degrees for fuel savings. You’ll reduce the chance of accidental burns, and the water still will be plenty hot for bathing, washing clothes and doing dishes.

13. Plug household leaks

Grab a tube of caulk, a can of spray foam gap-sealer, a pencil and notepad. Tour your home, inside and out, including the basement, to find and fill cracks and gaps in siding, windows and foundation. Note locations of problems you can’t fix right away.

Use caulk for small cracks and the foam sealer for bigger gaps. Inside the home, use a candle flame or digital thermometer to find where cold air is entering. Pay attention to windows, skylights, chimneys, vents and door frames (in areas around the frame not remedied by tip No. 1’s weatherstripping).

Also, check openings around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts and check the top of basement walls where the foundation meets wood.

14. Insulate hot water pipes

Insulate the hot water pipes in your basement or crawl space by snapping foam sleeves on them. You’ll find pre-slit, hollow-core, flexible foam pipe insulation at hardware stores. Make a note of your pipes’ diameters and lengths, and bring the measurements when you shop.

Exposed pipes waste heat by cooling the water as it runs through them. Be sure to include pipes between the hot water tank and wall. Also, insulate cold water pipes for the first 3 feet after they enter the house.

15. Use your window coverings

It’s surprising how much insulation can be provided by curtains, drapes, shades and even mini blinds.

Draw window coverings at night and when you’re away to conserve heat in the home. In hot weather, draw window coverings in the morning to keep the house cool, saving money on air conditioning.

Share your tips and experiences on home energy savings by posting a comment below or our Facebook page.

Money Crashers

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, rivaled only by early summer. I’m not alone – many people feel happy and invigorated during the fall season.

Yet as much as I would love to spend every afternoon basking in the last of the year’s sunny warmth, I can’t. I have plenty to do to get the house ready for the cold winter season. No matter where you live, winter probably brings a fairly significant change in climate, and homeowners have a long list of tasks to complete to winterize their homes.

I can hear your protests from here. After all, why should you have to clean out your gutters right now? I feel the same way, but let me ask you this: Would you rather clean out your gutters when it’s still pleasant outside, or when it’s freezing and your fingers are numb from scooping out wet, gunky leaf matter?

Taking care of these crucial tasks can help you save money on utility bills in the long run. Prepare for winter now, and you’ll be glad you did when cold weather settles in.

9 Tips to Prepare Your House for Winter

1. Drain Your Rain Barrels

Last year, I forgot to drain both my rain barrels before the first frost hit. In fact, I’m ashamed to say that I left the water in there all winter long. I’m amazed that the rain barrels didn’t split open from all of the freezing and thawing.

I won’t make this same mistake this year, however. Draining the rain barrels varies in difficulty, depending on the type of barrels you have. For some homeowners, draining them just means opening the spigots. Other rain barrels, like ones that I made for xeriscaping, have to be dumped out by the bucketful.

Do this in the autumn before the weather starts getting cold enough to freeze. You can save money on your water bill when you put that extra water to good use by watering houseplants, any remaining plants in your home garden, and your grass.

2. Clean Rain Gutters

Having clean gutters not only makes your home look nicer, but it can also help prevent the build-up of ice on your roof. The faster that water can drain away, the less likely it is to melt and then refreeze on your roof or under your shingles.

In addition, clean gutters reduce the risk of infestation and decrease the risk of mold in your home. If you don’t have leaf guards on your gutters, you might have to take several passes until all the leaves have fallen off the trees. While you clean your gutters, look for problem areas that may indicate that it’s time to trim the trees in your yard.

3. Trim Trees

Take a stroll around your yard and examine your trees closely. Do you see any limbs that could possibly knock out power to your home? Do you see limbs that could hit your car if they broke off during a winter snow storm?

Take time now to trim any weak branches that look as if they could cause problems during winter storms. Trimming the trees during mild weather is much easier than trying to do it when it’s frigid outside.

4. Check Your Snow Blower and Stock Up

If you live in a particularly snowy climate, it is likely that you have a snow blower. Fill it up with gas, and start it up to make sure it works. Also make sure that your shovel is still in good condition; if not, pick up another one, along with salt or sand for your driveway. People often wait until the first big snowfall to buy these crucial supplies, and stores often run out, especially if a big storm is on the way.

5. Check for Leaks

Now that the nights have cooled down, you can probably locate drafts coming into your home. Find those leaks and seal them up before winter. Walk around your home on a chilly night and, using bare hands and feet, feel around your doors, windows, lights, and switch plates for cold air.

If you detect cold air leaking in, this means that your warm air is going outside. You need to either add insulation to these areas, or seal them using weather-stripping, caulk, or spray foam. I know this can seem like an annoying chore – after all, these tiny leaks can’t make that much of a difference, right?

Well, it all adds up. Energy Star estimates that sealing the leaks around your home can help you shave as much as 20% off your heating and cooling costs, thus making your home more energy efficient.

6. Check Your Furnace Filter

Before you start running your furnace, check the filter – it may need to be replaced. If your furnace filter looks dirty, then definitely replace it. During the winter months, I change my furnace filter every 4 to 6 weeks.

Having a clean filter helps your furnace run more efficiently, which can save you energy and money. According to Planet Green, a clean filter can save you 5% to 15% on your heating bill.

Additionally, if you haven’t done so already, consider upgrading your thermostat to a programmable thermostat. Installation is easy, and the ability to program your thermostat to only work when you need it can save more money on heating during the long winter months. This is just one of many green energy technologies that you can utilize for home improvement.

7. Insulate Pipes and Hot Water Heater

Have you insulated your water pipes and hot water heater? If you haven’t, this relatively easy project can help trim your water heating costs this winter, especially if your water pipes run through a chilly or unheated basement.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), insulating your hot water pipes can help raise the temperature 2 to 4 degrees. This can allow you to get piping hot water on a lower setting, saving you both energy and money. The DOE also states that insulating your hot water heater trims 4% to 9% off your water heating costs.

8. Add Insulation

The DOE states that adding insulation is one of the best ways to save energy all year round. During the winter months, that extra insulation makes your home feel warmer. The best news? Adding insulation to your attic is quite simple.

I’m not great at home improvement, yet I completed a winter home improvement project two years ago that went off without a hitch. Adding insulation really paid off – my heat kicked on less frequently, which helped me save energy all winter long. Best of all, this home improvement project increases value.

How do you know if you have enough insulation, or if you need more? Use the DOE’s Insulation Fact Sheet; it tells you how much insulation you need (the R-value) based on your zip code. Most homes require 12 to 15 inches of insulation in their attic.

9. Get Your Chimney Cleaned

You probably haven’t used your fireplace since last winter. Before you use it on the first chilly night, you need to have your chimney cleaned by a professional.

In addition to increasing the heating efficiency of your fireplace, an annual cleaning also helps to ensure your family’s safety during the winter months. Chimney fires, a build-up of deposits, and animals nesting in your chimney make it unsafe to use. Having the chimney cleaned every year helps to eliminate these risks for fire in your home.

Chimney cleaners are busy during the fall and winter months, so call early before the temperature really starts to drop. That way you won’t have to wait to start your first cozy fire of the season.

Final Word

The thought of doing fall home improvement can make you groan. The fall season is exceptionally busy for many people, and it’s tempting to spend your free time enjoying the last few warm, sunny afternoons out in the backyard.

However, you can easily do most of these projects, and they’re more than worth the effort. In fact, not doing these projects in fall means you’ll likely have to bundle up and take care of them after the snow starts flying, when the cold and wind can make the tasks that much more difficult and unpleasant to do.

Have you completed winterizing your home? What other fall projects would you add to the list to prepare for cold weather?

Sadly for all homeowners, prepping your house for the winter is just one of those things you can’t skip out on. Though I wish I meant hanging holiday lights everywhere, decorating your mantel, and watching last year’s Hallmark Christmas movies on repeat until the new ones come out, there’s much more to it.

Unfortunately, this is not the fun list you’ll want to check twice, but you simply must—despite how tedious the tasks may be. Between the money saved on electricity and future repairs, your wallet will thank you later. Here’s exactly what you need to do in order to get ready for the cold weather ahead:

Weatherproof your doors and windows.

It’s important to get ahead of the winter weather and make sure your home is ready to handle the cold to come. Check your doors and windows closely for gaps and areas that may cause a draft. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal them up, or consider replacing the windows or doors if the problem is severe enough.

Duck Brand Heavy-Duty Weatherstrip Seal Duck homedepot.com White Silicone Window & Door Sealant Momentive Perform Material homedepot.com Rubber Foam Door Seal Weather Strip GCH amazon.com

Reverse your fans.

Hero ImagesGetty Images

Stephen Fanuka, host of Million Dollar Contractor, says turning your fans clockwise is a secret to saving money on heat in the winter since it will stop the warm air from rising, AKA keep it down where you want it to be. But how do you do this? Most ceiling fans have a switch that you can simply flip to reverse it—if the switch is not easily accessible on the outside of the fan, it may be somewhere inside.

Check for cracks in your water tank.

Another Fanuka tip is to make sure your hot water tank is crack-free. Chances are if you haven’t installed one in 10-15 years, you’ll need to replace it.

Clean your dryer hose.

Clogged dryer hoses pose huge fire hazards, in fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. firefighters respond to approximately 14,630 house fires annually that were caused by dryers. Consumer Reports shares that you can prevent these house fires by cleaning your lint filter, emptying or replacing your dryer hose, and regularly checking the vent and exhaust.

8 ft. Semi-Rigid Dryer Duct GE homedepot.com Deflecto Metallic, Multi Layer Duct Deflecto amazon.com Flexible Metal Dryer Duct GE homedepot.com

Get an annual fireplace inspection and chimney sweep.

Similar to dryer hoses, clogged chimneys lead to house fires, but they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a yearly inspection and chimney sweep may cost you money, but it could also save your life—so, make it happen. Additionally, make sure the flue on your chimney is fully functional so when the fireplace is not in use, you don’t experience drafts.

Prevent pipes from freezing.

Two of Stephen’s tips for the prevention of frozen pipes this winter include: (1) keep the heat on always and (2) let your faucets drip to keep the water flowing and make it harder for the water to freeze.

Lowe’s has other information on how to prevent and thaw out frozen pipes here.

Bring the outdoors inside.

In case you didn’t already do this before fall came around, be sure to move all outdoor furniture and appliances (grills, lawn mowers, et cetera) into your garage or shed as well as any planters you’d like to save through the season. Also, don’t forget to turn off all sprinkle systems and unplug garden hoses.

Clean out your gutters.

Lex20Getty Images

Yes, this is a post-autumn activity as well, unfortunately, since it’s best to avoid having any unnecessary weight from frozen leaves—in case the icicles weren’t heavy enough as is. Emptying the leaves, dirt, and debris will decrease the risk of damage to your gutters.

Keep the heat on.

Keep the heat on always, Stephen urges. Even when you go away. By doing so you can keep your pipes warm and prevent them from freezing, while also saving money on having your heating system work extra hard when you return to bring the house back up to room temperature. Lowe’s suggests updating your thermostat (if you haven’t already) to a programmable version so you can set the house for one temp when you’re home, and another for when you’re away.

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Taylor Mead Taylor is the Editorial Assistant for House Beautiful and Delish.

When the temperature drops, the conditions get worse, and the days get much shorter, it is vital that you have a warm and comfortable house to return to each day. Winter can be a lovely season if your house is inviting and well-protected from the elements, but in order to enjoy spending time at home during winter, you will need to take a few steps to ensure that you can be as comfortable as possible at all times. Taking action before winter arrives is essential so that you are fully prepared and can enjoy being at home as soon as the temperate drops. These are the main steps to take.

Roof Repairs

The roof is the most critical feature of the home, especially during the winter months as it provides shelter against the elements. This means that you need to make sure that the roof is ready and prepared for winter, so it is important to get up on the roof and look for any signs of damage and get repairs carried out quickly.

Clean The Gutters

You will also need to clean the gutters out to avoid any build-up of debris. Debris can lead to rot which can damage the roof, plus it also ensures that water is directed away from the foundation of the home. Fall can lead to a lot of debris so you may need to do this a few times over the next months.

Improve Energy Efficiency

People tend to increase the amount of energy used during winter in order to keep their home warm, but if possible, you should look for ways to make your home more energy-efficient. Doing so results in lower bills and is better for the environment. The main ways to do this are:

  • Add insulation
  • Finding and fixing draughts
  • Caulking around the windows
  • Using an energy-efficient boiler and other appliances

Get Boiler Checked

Leading on from this, you should also get your boiler serviced before winter arrives as you certainly won’t want to have to call someone out to make a repair in the middle of winter. Getting it inspected before the temperature drops should ensure that the boiler runs properly and will keep you warm even in the middle of winter.

Fireplace

Winter is a great time to make the most of a fireplace. If you have a fireplace in your home, then you should always hire a chimney sweep before starting a fire. If you do not have a chimney or flue, then you could look into purchasing ethanol fireplaces which allow you to have a fire in the home but without the need for a chimney as they do not produce smoke (and are environmentally-friendly).

These are the main steps that you need to take in order to get your home ready for the winter. Winter can be an enjoyable season when you have a warm and inviting house to come home to each day, but you will need to get the house ready if you are able to stay warm and cozy throughout the winter months.

How to prepare your home for winter

It pays to prepare your home for the worst of the British weather. Here’s some simple ways to keep your home safe and secure this winter.

Snow, sleet, ice and rain: not only can winter weather give us humans the chills, it can affect our properties too.
But with a few simple checks most problems can be headed off before they begin.
With this in mind, here’s a few tips on how to prepare your home for winter.

1. Prepare your outside space

Securing your outside space is obviously important in the run up to winter.
Make sure your rubbish and recycling bins are stored somewhere secure.
This should stop them moving about in high winds, potentially causing damage to a neighbour’s property or vehicle.
Also, before the worst of the cold weather sets in, it’s a good idea to make sure your gutters are clear of any debris.
This is important as they do an important job of carrying water away from your home, which can cause damp and resulting damage.
Read more: How to spot signs of damp

2. Secure your shed

Sheds can take a battering during the winter, so make sure doors are shut and locked.
Before you do this, you might want to make sure any garden furniture is stored away too.
If you have any plants that are vulnerable to cold weather, or things such as hanging baskets that can pose a risk should they fall, you should bring these inside as well.

Sheds and outbuildings are usually covered by your buildings insurance for fire, flood and storm damage.
However, garden items typically aren’t, as these tend to come under a contents insurance policy instead.
What’s more, it’s worth bearing in mind that expensive items such as power tools and bicycles may not be covered as standard.
Typically, any items worth more than £1,000 should be individually listed on a contents insurance policy.
Read more: How to secure and insure your shed and other outbuildings

3. Keep your car somewhere safe

If a storm is forecast, it’s a good idea to ensure your car is parked in a safe space.
A garage is ideal, which should be locked adequately both as a precaution against thieves, and to stop doors from inadvertently swinging open in any bad weather.
If it isn’t possible to keep your car in a garage, then try and make sure the vehicle is parked somewhere where it won’t be exposed to falling branches, or other types of debris.

4. Keep your house cosy

Before the mercury dips it can pay to check your house is going to be well protected against the cold.
Making sure your loft is properly insulated can make a big difference in improving your home’s energy efficiency.
This will not only help keep your home nice and toasty, but it should help to reduce your heating bills too.
Making sure your pipes don’t freeze over is another important task. In the worst cases blockages can lead to burst pipes.
To help prevent this, wrap any cold pipes with thermal insulation – known as pipe lagging or pipe jackets. You can buy this either from a DIY retailer or online.
Pipes that are particularly vulnerable to freezing include those that either run outside, like your garage, or through cold areas of your home.

5. Know where your stop cock is

In addition to wrapping your pipes up, it’s important to know where your stop cock is – this is the valve that turns off and on the cold water system in your home.
If the water in your pipes does freeze, then pressure can build up behind the blocked area, which can cause the pipe to burst.
In the unfortunate event this does happen, it’s vital you know where you stop cock is so you can shut off the water mains and prevent any flooding.
The stop cock is normally found in your kitchen, under your sink. Although in some houses it can be found in a front or back hall.
Look for a tap or a lever on your copper pipes and turn it clockwise to switch it off.
Read more: Burst pipes and stop taps

6. Bleed radiators

You’ll know if a radiator needs bleeding because when your heating is on the radiator will be cold at the top and hot at the bottom.
Before you do this you should have a cloth and bleed key at the ready. And ensure your heating has been turned off.
At the top of your radiator locate the valve and turn it anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing sound.
Once the water begins to flow, just tighten the value once more and you’re finished.
All the while make sure you have the cloth to hand to catch any water that drips from the valve.

7. Keep your heating on a timer

During the colder months it’s a good idea to keep your heating ticking over, even if you go away.
Ideally you should heat your home for at least one hour every day.
You can use the timer on your heating system to make sure it comes off and on.
This helps keeps the system running smoothly, heating your pipes and home.

8. Prepare for a power cut

Thankfully power cuts are relatively rare nowadays.
However, in the winter it still pays to be prepared, especially if a particularly bad spell of weather is forecast.
There are a few essentials that should form part of your emergency kit.
These include a wind-up torch and a battery-powered radio: the latter being good for both entertainment and keeping in touch with the latest weather news.

9. Make sure your home is adequately insured

One of the most important things you can do to protect your property ahead of the winter is to make sure you have the right home insurance in place.
Buildings and contents insurance policies generally cover any financial loss resulting from a storm – Acts of God excluded.
Some home insurance policies include alternative accommodation cover too.
This is a part of your policy that comes into play if your property suddenly becomes uninhabitable as a result of issues such as a flood, fire, subsidence or damage caused by a storm.
It means that your insurance policy provider will help find you alternative accommodation and pay costs, so you’re not left homeless while the problem is sorted out.

Read more: Alternative accommodation cover

10. Storm damage and home insurance – what’s covered?

In some cases, insurers can refuse to pay out for a weather-related claim if it feels that the homeowner hasn’t maintained their home to a sufficient standard.
This could be where the insurer thought that roof tiles had already been damaged by general wear and tear.
If you do need to make a claim, you should report it as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours of the event happening as this is what some insurers expect.
You should check with your policy provider before arranging any repair work.
Insurers will allow alternative companies to carry out any repair work, but may need to agree costs with them.

Beautiful weather has given way to fresh air and days are getting shorter. The time to cozy up to your home is around the corner. But first, you may have some work to do to get your house ready for winter.

Some steps can be taken to avoid damages. But we must not overlook the important measures to ensure that you fully enjoy the comfort of your home during the cold season. Here are our suggestions, all categories combined!

Clean windows: a matter of well-being

You don’t feel like doing a major fall house cleaning? However, it would be a good idea to wash at least the windows both inside and outside. It’s a question of well-being! Indeed, there are so few rays of sunshine in winter that they must be able to pass easily through the windows to give you access to its benefits. Especially vitamin D. Besides, brightness in a house is good for the mood!

Inspect the gutters

Are your gutters full of leaves and debris? It is best to clean them before the cold arrives. This will prevent garbage from blocking rainwater drainage when it is soaked in water. This, by freezing, could break the gutters. Psst! Remember to remove the gutter extensions for the same reason.

Change your home design (partly!)

No one wants to rethink the design of their home every season. However, it is wise to have two sets of accessories on hand (one more summery and the other more wintery) that will dress the same room whose furniture and wall colour remain the same. For example, you might decide to give a more autumnal look to your bedroom by playing with textures and colours: thick velvet curtains in warm colours, longhaired rugs, yellow or navy blue decorative cushions, wool throw, etc. Then, in the spring, simply put the brighter and fresher accessories back on.

Stop insects from entering

Some bugs are looking for warmth during the winter. They can be found in cracks in the foundation of the house or in the air outlets of kitchen hoods or dryers. They can also infiltrate into openings in the attic. Check the waterproofness of your home. And to drive away carpenter ants, get rid of dead wood, rotten plant waste and above all, destroy access points such as tree branches touching the building’s structure.

Spreading new smells

It is important to aerate the house before winter, especially if you own an air-conditioner. This helps to change the air that is more polluted than you might think. Keep doors and windows open for at least one hour in the fall. Cleaning filters (kitchen hood vents, air exchanger, etc.) is also an excellent idea to improve air quality. Also, to get in the mood, spread autumn smells. With candles or essential oil dispensers, scent the house with a sweet aroma that makes you want to pamper yourself inside like cinnamon or vanilla.

Store and clean your belongings

Just because they live outdoors doesn’t mean that patio furniture, children’s toys and tools don’t need a little love. Do a good clean up and store everything you can in the garage, basement or shed. It is best not to put too much under the balcony: the accumulation of snow and ice can create an uplift. Next spring, you will be happy to have organized the yard beforehand.

Check the insulation

No one wants to feel winter breezes and see their electricity bill rise. The front door is the first to be checked: close it on a sheet of paper. If it slips, it’s time to invest in caulking. As for windows, put your hand close to them to check their tightness and change the seals if necessary. It is also possible to apply plastic wrap designed to insulate patio doors and windows.

Eliminate moisture problems

Living in a damp house is never pleasant, especially in winter. And that’s often because there’s a water infiltration problem. The signs are diverse: it can be a ring on the ceiling or wall, missing shingles on the roof or a warped floor. Before the snow begins to fall, walk around your home looking for possible damage. When the leak is sealed, all that remains is to repair. If your flooring needs to be replaced, don’t hesitate to visit a Deco Surfaces store for expert advice.

We hope that these 8 concrete actions will give you peace of mind that will make you appreciate the presence of winter… in your cozy home!