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Oct 15, 2018

Winterize Your Home to Save Your Budget

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As the end of Daylight Savings Time approaches, we're reminded that whether we’re ready or not another winter is right around the corner. Depending on your location (hello, MinneSNOWta), you could experience some extreme conditions. The snowstorms, subzero temperatures, wind, and ice that mark this time of year can pose significant inefficiencies and even real dangers to your home that can cost you. Check out our winterizing your home tips to prepare your house (and pocket) to endure the winter.

Why is winterizing your home necessary? During the winter season, homeowners have two primary goals: keep heat inside their house and keep the elements out.

However, those in Minnesota and other areas with cold, snowy winters know that these goals can be challenging to meet. The chill of an icy wind whipping through a home and the hours spent shoveling snow remind you how tough it can be to prepare your house to stand up to a typical winter.

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a significant amount of money to get your house ready for winter weather. A trip to a home improvement store and some time on the weekend should get your home in good shape for the cold that’s coming. Here are five ways you can quickly and easily winterize your home.

#1: Take a look at your windows. Windows have an unfortunate habit of allowing cold air into the house. With a little planning, you can dramatically cut down on the amount of cold air that enters into your home. Home maintenance experts recommend that you install a silicone-based caulking around the exterior of each window to keep the cold air out. Make sure that you use an exterior-grade caulk so that it will last for several years.

Once you’ve finished caulking and depending on the style of your windows and doors. it’s time to move indoors to weatherstrip the sash on each. There is a wide variety of weatherstripping materials on the market, from foam tape to v-channel products to felt. It’s a good idea to ask your favorite home improvement store for advice on which type of weatherstripping is best for your house.

Don't own your home?

If you rent, you can still help keep your place warmer by using a special plastic film (available at many retailers) over windows to keep heat in and cold out. It's easy to install and shouldn't damage surfaces, saving you on monthly utilities and your security deposit.

#2: Decorate with heavy drapes. When you were growing up, did your grandmother always have thick, heavy drapery in her home? While minimal window coverings are in fashion right now, older, heavier styles do provide some ability to keep out the cold. Substantial window coverings allow a room to retain a great deal of its warmth.

To help keep your home warm this winter and heating bills down, you may want to invest in some heavier curtains. Temporarily replacing the light and flowing fabrics with denser fabrics like velvet, denim, suede, and tapestry will keep the colder air trapped near the windows, so it doesn’t bring a chill to your rooms. Depending on the temperatures in and out of your home, this added insulation may leave condensation on windowsills so just be sure to check this on occasion and wipe up moisture as needed to avoid damaging your windows. This could also tell you something about the condition of your windows.

#3: Protect your pipes. Frozen pipes are one of the most severe challenges that your house could face this winter. As any plumber will tell you, a frozen pipe can result in a water leak or, even worse yet, a flood caused by a pipe bursting within your house. Given the potential expensive damage that comes from water leaks, it’s essential that you protect your pipes against the super cold air that is a hallmark of winter in many parts of the country.

House guru Bob Vila recommends that you focus on keeping the air surrounding your pipes warm. A pipe can freeze as soon as the air temperature near the pipe falls below freezing. Take these steps to keep the air around your pipes warm:

  • Seal any cracks and vents on exterior walls

  • Keep your indoor temperature heated to at least 55 degrees F

  • Turn off outdoor faucets and flush any water out as needed

  • Drain and turn off your landscape sprinkler system

#4: Buy a water heater blanket. Your water heater needs to work extra hard as the outdoor temperature falls deep into the subzero range. Your energy bill will rise with the increased demands on your water heater. Uninsulated water heaters benefit from the additional layer provided by a water heater blanket. These blankets are useful no matter where your water heater is, but if your water heater is in a basement or garage, where there is no climate control, an insulated blanket is a wise investment.
Newer water heaters contain a layer of insulation that guarantees significant energy savings. An easy way to check to see if your hot water tank is insulated is to touch the outside of the container. Does the tank feel warm? If so, your water heater lacks insulation and a water heater blanket would help you save energy during the cold weather months.

#5: Fix up your furnace. Perhaps the most vital part of winterizing your home is making sure that your heating system is ready for action. Call a heating professional for a system tune-up well before the first snowfall; waiting too long could cost you more for speedy fixes or when they’re in higher demand. As a part of the annual maintenance appointment, the technician performs routine tasks like cleaning the furnace parts and replacing the filters along with checking to make sure that the entire system is operating correctly.

A well-running furnace is the foundation for all of your winter weather house preparations. Not only will you sleep better at night with the knowledge that your heater is working to keep your family warm and cozy, but you’ll also see lower heating bills as the system works more efficiently.

Switch it up.

Reverse the direction of your overhead fans to help keep the rooms in your home toasty warm. This winter step allows the fans to push the rising warm air back down into the rest of the room. You will be able to turn the indoor temperature down a bit, saving you valuable money on your energy bill.

Cold winter climates provide a lot of opportunities for fun like ice skating, snowshoeing, snowball fights, and snowy hikes. And coming home to a snug, warm house is the best way to end a day. Take time to winterize your home so you can rest easy that your house is ready for the coming weather, leaving you prepared to enjoy the season.

Contents of this blog article are intended to provide you with a general understanding of the subject matter. However, it is not intended to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Information may have changed since the publication date.

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