Lifestyle Magazine

Getting Yourself & Your Home Ready for Winter – The Ultimate Preparation List

By Ty Watson

As we enter the colder part of the year, winterizing your home and getting it ready for the cold months ahead is important - not just for your comfort, but also when it comes to making sure that you are using as little energy as possible and not spending more than you need to on keeping your home warm and safe during the winter months. There are several things that you can do to get your home ready for winter - some more necessary than others - to ensure that you've got a warm, cozy and safe place to be no matter how bad the weather gets outside. Here are some ideas that you might find useful for getting your home in top shape for the colder months.

#1. Replace old or inefficient windows

Old windows, or windows that are not energy efficient aren't going to be much of a barrier against the cold during the winter. Instead, they are more likely to let drafts in and allow warm air from the inside to escape more easily. If you want to make some improvements on your home in time for winter, then upgrading your windows to double- or triple-glazing is an excellent idea.

#2. Reseal outside doors

If you have outside doors that tend to let air in, then it might be worth considering sealing a few off for the winter - you can use plastic or caulk putty. If sealing some doors off isn't an option, then repair any loose sealant around them to ensure that they're not letting any air in or out.

#3. Reseal windows and patio doors

Use clear plastic to seal off any drafty windows or patio doors.

#4. Upgrade your furnace

If your furnace is over ten years old, it's probably wasting a lot of fuel and won't be energy-efficient this winter. It might be time to consider upgrading to a new one.

#5. Get your boiler maintenance

Schedule regular maintenance for the heating system in your home - this AC company, Semper Solaris offers a range of services for heating system repair and maintenance that are essential for keeping your system running correctly throughout the winter. It might also be worth getting your air conditioning maintained at the same time - AC repair or AC tune up services will ensure that it's ready to go once summer comes back around.

#6. Insulate hot water lines

Insulate the lines around your hot water heater, and then turn down the temperature to the 'warm settings' - usually around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

#7. Blanket your water heater

Consider 'blanketing' your water heating using fiberglass insulation. However, don't go for this option if your home uses a gas-powered water heater; speak to a reputable HVAC company instead to discover safer options.

#8. Wrap hot water pipes

If you have hot water pipes that run through any unheated areas of your home, wrap them to prevent them from freezing and bursting.

#9. Insulate cold water pipes

Insulating your cold water pipes if they are not already insulated will help to prevent them from freezing over and causing bursts and leaks throughout the winter.

#10. Replace furnace filters

Furnace filters should be replaced around every three months, so if you haven't touched yours over the warmer seasons, now is the best time to replace them with new ones. And make sure that you revisit three months later to do it again.

#11. Replace weather stripping

If the weather stripping around the doors in your home is getting a little old and worn, replacing it with new will ensure that they are doing their job of keeping warm air in and cold air out as best possible.

#12. Get a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat is ideal for winter - you can set it to switch your heating system on at set times of the day, helping to reduce heating costs when nobody is at home. You don't want to return home to a freezing house - but you don't want to waste energy either - so this is the best solution. If you want a smart home, consider a smart thermostat that you can control from anywhere using your smartphone.

#13. Uncover south-facing windows

Uncovering all windows in your home that face in a southerly direction will ensure that you're letting as much sunlight as possible into your home during the winter months. This can save your energy by providing some natural light during the day and can be better for your health and wellbeing too.

#14. Clean vents

Go through your home and clean any vents - especially air conditioning vents that may have gathered a lot of dust, dirt and debris throughout the summer months. And, make sure that all baseboard heaters are cleaned.

#15. Install a water heater timer

Consider installing a programmable timer on your water heater, so that it's not heating an entire tank of water when you don't need it. This way you can still get hot water when you need it throughout the winter, but you won't use as much energy.

#16. Get a fireplace insert

If you have a fireplace that you like to use often to keep warm in your home, then consider getting an insert to direct the heat into your home, rather than sending it up the chimney. And make sure that you close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.

#17. Install foam insulators

To keep your electricals safe, you might want to consider installing foam insulators behind light switch plates and other electrical outlets in your home. And, adding insulation means that cold air can't escape through them - power outlets and light switches can create more draftiness than you might realize!

#18. Check your wall insulation

Now is a good time to check the insulation in your home's walls. If it's been there a while, then it might be in need of some work if it's going to keep the heat in efficiently throughout the winter.

#19. Plant evergreen trees

Trees close to your home aren't just great for the environment and pretty to look at; they can also block the winter wind and keep your property shielded from the elements, helping to keep you warmer inside during the winter.

#20. Reverse ceiling fan direction

Reversing the direction of your ceiling fans will push the hot air downward, helping it to stay trapped inside the home for longer.

#21. Get thermal curtains

Thermal curtains are a great idea for the winter - not only do they look great hanging in your home and add a cozy feel; they can also help to prevent drafts coming in through the windows and prevent warm air from escaping the home.

#22. Get an indoor dryer vent

If you use a tumble dryer to dry your laundry, consider getting an attachment that allows you to vent your dryer inside your home, so that you don't have to open a window or door and end up wasting heat and humidity. However, bear in mind that this isn't an option if you use a gas-powered dryer.

#23. Check windows for leaks

Go through your house to check all the windows for any leaks that could lead to cold air getting in and warm air escaping your home. If you have windows with wooden frames, then be particularly vigilant as these types of windows often warm and become inefficient over time.

#24. Avoid space heaters

Space heaters can come in handy for keeping small areas of your home warm during the winter, especially if you're planning to spend most of your day in one room - using one means that you can avoid switching on the entire heating system and save energy as a result. But, avoid using them to heat large areas of your house as this could have the opposite effect.

#25. Keep closet doors closed

Whenever possible, keep all your closet doors closed when they are not in use. There is no need to heat spaces that's not in use, as long as there are no water pipes within it. If there are water pipes running through your closet, then keep the door open for a while to keep them warm.

#26. Check your garage for drafts

Spend some time in your garage looking for areas where drafts could be getting in - especially if your garage is attached to your home, as this could mean that the drafts are coming through into the house, or that hot air is escaping from the home through the garage.

#27. Replace bathtub and shower caulking

Get your bathroom in the best shape for the cold weather by replacing the caulking around your bathtub or shower.

#28. Insulate attic doors

If you have a home with folding attic stairs, you might want to consider insulating the door with some sort of cover, to help prevent any cold air getting in or warm air escaping your home through the attic.

#29. Check sliding doors for leaks

If you have a sliding glass door at your home, then make sure to check the seal on the bottom before the winter, to ensure that it's intact and is not letting in any cold air.

#30. Bake when it's cold

If you enjoy baking and cooking, consider scheduling time to do this at colder hours of the day, so that you can use your oven to heat your home as well as making tasty food.

#31. Install storm doors

If you're worried about drafts, then installing storm doors can be a great way to make sure that you're keeping them out of your home this winter.

#32. Use an energy monitor

An energy monitor can be an ideal tool all year round, but especially throughout the winter when it's more likely that you'll be using a larger amount of energy to heat and power your home. Consider investing in a smart meter; you can use this to discover which appliances are using the most energy, helping you to pinpoint the different areas where you may be able to cut back on some of your energy usage over the winter.

#33. Check your ducts

Make sure that your duct system is working properly before the winter - if you're not sure how, a registered HVAC professional can help.

#34. Consider geothermal heating

Geothermal heating systems can be quite pricey, but if you're looking to make upgrades to your home, then this one can definitely be worth the investment. Although you can expect to pay a lot initially, over time the energy savings that you can make can easily provide a long-term cost benefit to you.

#35. Get warm clothes

Make sure that you've got a supply of warm clothes to wear at home during the winter so that you're not tempted to turn the thermostat up even higher.

#36. Check mortar

If your home is brick, then check the mortar before the winter - if it's getting old or the summer has been particularly hot, then it may be in need of repair. Damaged mortar can lead to drafts and energy wastage, so it's best to have any repairs carried out before the wintertime.

#37. Fix your roof

The roof is one of the most important parts of your home - so if you've got any worn or missing shingles or tiles, now is the best time to get that looked at. If not, a broken roof throughout the winter can not only end up letting cold air in and causing warm air to escape; it can also lead to more serious issues like leaks and ice dams, which can cause significant damage to your home and be costly to repair.

#38. Keep your feet warm

Wear socks and slippers at home to keep your feet warm; when your feet are warm, you'll feel warmer overall, and you'll be able to keep the thermostat set low without being uncomfortable.

#39. Seal foundation cracks

Check the foundation of your home - if there are any cracks, then these could only end up getting worse over the winter and causing significant damage to the foundation of your home. Make sure that any cracks you find are sealed immediately.

#40. Close off unused rooms

If there are any rooms in your home that don't get used very regularly, make sure that they are closed off and shut any vents - this way your home's heating system will not have to work as hard to heat up the entire home, including rooms that aren't in use. It might also be worth switching off individual radiators and heaters in rooms that are out of use.

#41. Use draft stoppers:

Drafts can sneak into your home underneath doors - and the warm air can escape that way too, even if your doors are well sealed. It's worth using draft stoppers underneath both outdoor and indoor doors, or using a rubber strip to seal the underneath of doors off to keep the cold air trapped outside where it belongs.

#42. Upgrade your water heater:

Have a professional look over your water heater and ensure that it is properly maintained in time for the winter months. If your water heater is quite old, then you might want to consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model - you might want to consider installing a tankless water heater in this case.

#43. Dry your clothes in consecutive loads:

When doing laundry, try and get everything done at once so that you can use your clothes dryer one load after the other. This is because the dryer will stay warm in between washes, helping you avoid using unnecessary energy to heat the dryer up several times throughout the day.

#44. Clean your air conditioning:

Clean your air conditioning system and remove any window-until air conditioners for the winter.

#45. Install a dryer vent seal:

If you dry your clothes with a vented dryer, then consider installing a vent seal to stop any cold air from coming back into your home when you're doing laundry.

#46. Replace your lightbulbs:

As the winter weather draws in and the nights get darker and longer, chances are that you'll be using electricity to light your home more often than you did during the summer. It's worth considering replacing all the lightbulbs in your home with energy saving bulbs - not only do these save a significant amount of energy per light, they also tend to last much longer than regular bulbs, making them a better investment all round.

#47. Unblock cold air returns:

Check your furnace and make sure that any cold air returns are not blocked; these are necessary to the efficient running of your furnace, particularly during the winter months.

#48. Make your fireplace more efficient:

A fire in the evening can do a great job of keeping you warm and provide a pleasant, cozy atmosphere - but unfortunately fireplaces can be quite inefficient. Along with using an insert to keep the heat from going straight up the chimney, you might also want to consider adding glass doors to your fireplace to keep the heat in. And, did you know that sprinkling coffee grounds in your fireplace will make it easier to clean later on?

#49. Try some homemade warming drinks:

There's nothing like a warm drink to keep you going on a cold winter's day - but if you're getting sick of drinking tea or hot chocolates, then why not try something new? Throat-soothing lemon, ginger and honey teas are ideal if you're feeling a little hoarse in the cold weather, or opt for a spicy herbal tea to warm you through and through.

#50. Harness the sun's energy:

Although it probably won't heat your entire house during the winter, adding solar panels is a great idea when preparing your home for colder weather, in order to get some extra heat for your home without massive heating costs. Or you could even try your hand at making your own solar heater - it's possible!

#51. Get a heated blanket:

If you get cold at night but don't want to leave your heating system running while you sleep, a heated blanket could be an ideal option for you. You can get heated blankets that are charged at the mains first or even battery-powered options if you want to reduce your energy usage as much as possible.

#52. Change your color palette:

It might not be a practical solution, but it's common for many homeowners in the winter to say goodbye to the summertime vibe they've got going on with their décor, and embrace rich, warming shades that will make the home feel warmer and cozier. Think olive green, blush pink, charcoal, terracotta, or even navy blue; these all create a cozy, warm and inviting retreat from the cold outside.

#53. Cover up wooden floors:

Wooden floors can look stunning, but the problem with them is that in the winter, they can be freezing underfoot - and sometimes even let drafts in. If you have wooden floors throughout your home, then it's worth investing in some plush, large rugs to keep them covered and cozy up your home.

#54. Stock up on firewood:

If you use a fireplace, then it's a good idea to stock up on firewood as early as possible and keep it dry - that way, you're prepared if winter ends up arriving earlier than you anticipated.

#55. Carpet your home:

If you've been thinking about carpet, now's probably the best time to invest. After all, you don't want to be jumping out of bed onto a freezing cold floor in the winter. If you've been thinking about adding carpet to your home or getting carpet in the bedrooms, definitely do it before the winter.

#56. Replace your worn linen and towels:

Before the winter is a good time of year to treat your home to some fresh, fluffy, warm new linen and towels - you'll be grateful for the additional comfort when you get home after a long day in the cold.

Preparing both your home and yourself for the cold weather can make the winter season that little bit more bearable - and even enjoyable!

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