How To Prepare Your Home For Cold Weather

October 10, 2018 Allison Hess

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The cold fronts are fast approaching, pumpkin spice lattes are in full swing, and holiday decorations are stocking the shelves. Winter is coming… So are you prepared?

Too frequently, Americans neglect or forget to prepare their home for the changes in the season. How your house responds to summer weather is completely different from how it handles winter storms.

To avoid potential damage or disaster, you want to prep your home thoroughly to brace against the changes that come with winter weather.

So we’re giving you the ultimate checklist to prepare your home for cold weather so you can avoid damage and associated high costs.

  1. Clean your gutters.

Gutters pull water away from your roof and house. If they get clogged up during the summer and winter seasons, the water will get trapped. In colder months, this water can freeze, creating more blockages. This can cause ice and snow to leak into your roof or foundation.

Cleaning your gutters during the fall season can help ensure that any water or snow runoff moves away from the house, so you don’t end up with costly water damage in your attic, walls, or foundation.     

  1. Insulate your attic.

Make sure that your attic has plenty of insulation. This prevents heat from the house from being “wasted” in the attic. It’s a good way to make sure you’re not throwing money out the window in your energy bill.

This also helps avoid heat escaping your home, which can melt any ice on the roof; this ice then refreezes on the roof, creating ice dams that can actually break through your roof to create even more damage.

Work with a professional to make sure that you have insulation around your pipes/vents, chimney systems, light fixtures, and doorframes. They can also make sure you have enough ventilation for the season to keep airflow steady.

  1. Install weather stripping.

Weather stripping seals up all the cracks in your house, especially around windows, doors, and air conditioning units. This stripping helps seal warm air inside and keeps out cold air. This saves money on your energy bill due to “leaks” in the house, and it also helps regulate your indoor temperature during even the coldest months.

  1. Prune trees.

During winter storms, heavy snow can cause tree branches (even strong branches) to break off and fall down. That means you’ll want to prune back or remove any branches that could potentially do harm to your house, car, or family.

  1. Protect your pipes.

One of the most common—and expensive—winter incidents is frozen or burst pipes. A burst pipe happens when the pipes freeze and block off, which can send water shooting everywhere, resulting in thousands of dollars in water damage.

Go through your home to make sure any exposed pipe is wrapped in insulation. You can purchase foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves made for pipes, which are easy to install yourself. You should also caulk any cracks or holes in your walls to prevent cold air from hitting your pipes.

Tip: During a particularly cold winter night, let your faucets drip. This keeps the water in the pipes moving so they’re less likely to freeze.

  1. Get a generator.

If you live in an area that frequently loses power, it might be worth it to invest in a generator. As the name implies, generators supply electricity and heat in certain rooms of your house. This provides a safety net for your home in the event of a power outage that could leave you without heat or electricity for days on end.

There are two types of generators: portable and standby. Portable will allow you to power specific appliances during the storm, while a standby allows you to generate electricity for entire rooms.

Learn how to choose the best generator for you here.

  1. Stock up.

The weatherman says a storm is coming, and everyone runs to the store to pick up all the essentials (and they take way more essentials than they need). You could be left without the necessary food provisions for your family in the case of an incident.

So buy a few food preserves early to stock up your pantry in the case of a storm. We recommend water, nuts, trail mixes, canned vegetables, protein bars, granola bars, beans, and nut-based butters. These usually stay well and don’t require much cooking in the case of an outage.

You’ll also want to stock up on safety supplies like flashlights, batteries, candles, duct tape, first aid kit, cooler (that you can fill with ice before a storm), extra toiletries, space heater, lighter, non-electric can opener, pet supplies, and baby food.

Note: Make sure you always have at least one week of your medications on you! If roads close and you can’t get to the pharmacy, you want to make sure you’re still able to take care of your health.

  1. Install a smart thermostat.

Smart homes are the wave of the future. These technologies allow you to better control your house and catch issues or changes before they become a problem.

A smart thermostat allows you to constantly monitor the temperature of your home during a cold snap right from your mobile device. You can change the temperature with the touch of a finger—even if you aren’t at home. These adjustments can save a significant amount of money by saving on energy bills and avoiding cold-related damages.

  1. Clean the house.

One of the major sources of “winter flu” is actually right in your house. Anything your home has accumulated during the summer is there with you when you cuddle up on your couch. The gunk that’s sitting in your upholstery and carpets instantly sets off allergies and colds that make you more susceptible to illness throughout the winter.

It’s the perfect time to do a thorough fall cleaning to get your home ready for the winter season. That means tackling those tough to clean areas and upholstery like couches, mattresses, and other problem areas in your home. It’s also a great opportunity to replace all those disposable household items that you haven’t replaced in a while.

  1. Change your filters.

You want your HVAC system completely clean and clear when you turn it on, so it doesn’t end up blowing dust and germs out with the influx of hot air. Work with a professional to make sure your HVAC is sanitary and working in tip-top shape.

You’ll also want to change your air purifier filter. This will ensure your air purifier is appropriately removing any toxins or impurities from the air, so you can have healthy, happy, fresh air quality during the indoor winter months.  

  1. Prep for rodents.

Rodents start to look for shelter as the temperature starts to drop. So you want to be proactive about keeping them out of your shelter.

This means filling in any holes or gaps that lead into the house. A small mouse can fit into a hole no larger than a U.S. penny. You should consider calling in an exterminator who can identify and fix problem areas before they become a problem.

You can also use peppermint essential oil to deter pests from entering your home. Plus, peppermint will add a nice holiday scent to your house. Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and place near openings where pests could get through. Replace these cotton balls every 1-2 weeks.  

Learn about natural ways to get rid of insects here.

  1. Get a humidifier.

A humidifier is a great way to prevent winter dryness that can cause cracking and damage. It adds moisture to your home, which can also keep your family healthier and more comfortable.  

Learn more about the importance of a humidifier in the winter months here: What Is A Humidifier And Why Do I Need One?

  1. Stock up on houseplants.

Like a humidifier, houseplants help maintain the freshness and quality of your home’s air. Having more plants in your home during the winter can help maintain your family’s health and reduce stress levels.

Make sure your houseplants are getting sun and aren’t exposed to cold drafts. The best place to put your houseplants is in your bedroom in direct sunlight. This will help you sleep while also keeping your plants thriving throughout the season.

  1. Get ready for the holidays.

One of our favorite parts of the winter season is the holidays! But the holidays can take a toll on your house, especially if you’re hosting. Get your house ready in advance to take on the force of the holidays, so you can make preparation and clean up a breeze during the chaos.

Check out these resources to prep for the holidays here:

The winter season is here—which means it’s time to start preparing!

How do you prep your home for the winter? Give us your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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