The worst winter weather is still months away from us, but the cold will be setting in any time now, and that’s why you need to think now about preparing your home. With any home prep for winter, I look at it in stages: from the smallest improvements, the medium-level improvements, and the big improvements. Good news is that you can decide how much time you’d like to invest—no matter what level you’re at.
1st Stage: The Basics
The Basics are the easiest, simplest things you can do before and during the winter to lower your heating bill and to ensure that the snow build up and ice don’t harm your home. For insulation, we’re talking about the plastic sheeting you can put over windows to better insulate them, and making sure all storm windows are closed tight. You can also use the foam strips around doors and windows that prevent any wind chill from entering the home.
Also, clean the gutters before the first snowfall to ensure that less weight is placed on your gutters when they freeze and when the snow melts, it’ll have an easy drainage route. Be sure, too, to turn off the water to any outside faucets long before the first freeze to prevent pipe damage.
2nd Stage: Intermediate
This is the stage I look to most when offering suggestions to folks trying to winterize their house in the most affordable, efficient way. Again, insulation and heating are key points, and one of the crucial steps most people forget is to replace their HVAC filters to ensure that the most heat is getting into the house. If not, the HVAC will have to work harder to push the hot air through. Also, while you don’t need to add insulation all over the house, the attic is a quick and easy location where you can stuff a bit more insulation to ensure less heat leaves from the roof.
Pro tip: a good percentage of hot air won’t make it into your house because it gets lost in the ducts at loose connections or where the duct hasn’t been properly insulated. Give those a check-up.
3rd Stage: Long-term Investments
These are the steps you’re going to want to think long and hard about because A.) they’ll take up more time to complete and B.) they’ll be a lot more expensive. These long-term investments include steps like replacing your furnace completely, updating it with something more efficient. You can also use a heat sensor and a technician to find where around your house you’re losing heat and where you can add more insulation in the walls to prevent this heat from escaping. And further, you might want to consider replacing the roof during the spring to make sure that no rips or tears in the shingles are allowing heat or moisture to enter the attic or house.
But these are all things to consider long before the winter begins. If you can think that far ahead, you might be saving yourself in the long run.