Learning how to winterize your home now will pay dividends in the future!

Fall is one of my favorites of all the seasons, rivaled only by late spring.  I’m not alone — many people feel happy and invigorated during the autumn season!

No matter where you live, winter probably brings a substantial shift 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 must clean out your gutters at this time?  I feel exactly the same way, but let me ask you this: Would you wash out your gutters when it is still nice outside, or when it is freezing and your fingers are numb from scooping out wet, gunky leaf matter?

Taking care of those crucial tasks, especially on homes that are not custom built homes, can help you save money on utility bills in the long term.  Get ready for winter now, and you’ll be glad you did when cold weather settles in.

Tips to Winterize Your Home

  1. Drain Your Rain Barrels

Last year, I forgot to drain both my rain barrels prior to the first frost hit.  In fact, I am ashamed to say I left the water in there all winter long.  I’m surprised that the rain barrels did not split open from the freezing and thawing.

I will not make this same mistake this year, however.  Draining the rain barrels varies in difficulty, depending on the type of barrels you might have.  For some homeowners, draining them is as easy as opening the spigots.

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

  1. Clean Rain Gutters

Having clean gutters not only makes your house look nicer, but it can also help stop the accumulation of ice on your roof.  The faster that water can drain off, the less likely it’s to melt and then refreeze in your roof or under your shingles.

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

tips to winterize your home

  1. Trim Trees

Don’t forget about trimming trees when you think about how to winterize your home! Take a stroll around your yard and analyze your trees closely.  Do you see any limbs that could possibly knock out power to your home?  Do you see limbs which could hit your car if they broke off during a winter snowstorm?

Take time now to trim any weak branches which look as if they could cause difficulties during winter storms.  Trimming the trees during mild weather is much easier than trying to get it done if it’s freezing out.

  1. Assess Your Snow Blower and Stock Up on Winter Essentials

If you live in a particularly snowy climate, it is possible that you have a snowblower.  Fill it up with fresh fuel and start it up to make sure it works properly.  Also make sure that your shovel is still in good condition; if not, pick up another one, together with salt or sand for your driveway.  People often wait until the first big snowfall to buy these critical tools, and stores often run out, especially if a large storm is on the horizon.

  1. 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 house on a chilly night and, with 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 Your warm air is going outside.  You want to add insulation to such areas, or seal them using weather-stripping, caulk, or spray foam.  I know this can look like an annoying chore — after all, these tiny leaks can not 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 percent off your heating and cooling costs, thus making your home more energy-efficient.

  1. Check or Change Your Furnace Filter

It’s easy to forget about the furnace when you consider how to winterize your home. It’s out of sight and out of mind! But before you start running your furnace this winter, check the filter – it may have to be replaced.  If your furnace filter looks dirty, then replace it.  During the winter months, I change my furnace filter every 4 to 6 months.

Having a clean filter helps your furnace run more Efficiently, which can save 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 like Nest.  Installation is simple, and the ability to program your thermostat to only work when you want it can save money on heating during the long winter months.  This is just one of many green energy technologies that you may utilize for home improvement.

  1. Insulate Pipes and Hot Water Heater

Have you ever insulated your water pipes and hot water heater?  If You have not, this relatively easy project can help reduce your water heating costs this winter, especially if your water pipes run through a cold or unheated basement.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), insulating your hot water pipes Can help increase the temperature between 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.

how to winterize your house

  1. Add Insulation

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

Even if you’re not great at home improvement, you can finish a winter these simple projects without a hitch. Adding insulation really paid off — my heat pump cycled less frequently, which helped me save energy all winter long.  Best of all, this home improvement project increases the value of your property!

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 need 12 to 15 inches of insulation in their attic.

  1. Get Your Chimney Cleaned

You probably haven’t used your chimney 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, a yearly cleaning also helps to make sure your family’s safe during the winter months.  Chimney fires, a build-up of creosote deposits, and animals nesting in your chimney make it unsafe to use.  Insisting the chimney  be cleaned every year will help to eliminate these risks of fire in your home.

Just because this is our last task about how to winterize your home, doesn’t mean it’s the least important. Quite the opposite in fact! Chimney cleaners are busy during the fall and winter months, so call early prior to the temperature really starting to fall.  That way you won’t need to wait to start your cozy fire when a cold snap hits.

Final Words

The Notion of doing fall home improvement can make you groan.  The autumn season is extremely busy for a lot of folks, and it is tempting to spend your spare time enjoying the last couple of warm, sunny afternoons outside in the backyard. Get to know your home!

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 falling, when the cold and wind can make the tasks that much more difficult and unpleasant to do.

Have you completed winterizing your property and home?  What other fall tasks should we add to this list on how to winterize your home? Leave a comment below!