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Baby It’s Cold Outside – Is Your Home Ready?

If you’ve got your sweaters, boots and gloves, you’re ready for old man winter, right?  Well, if you’re a homeowner, not quite.  A little time and effort on your part and your home – not to mention your wallet – will thank you.

Here are some simple, do-it-yourself solutions to prepare your home for winter:

Doors and Windows

 

Drafty doors and windows are not only uncomfortable; they can seriously increase winter heating bills.

1)  Caulk around doors and windows to prevent air leaks – if you can decorate a cake, you can use a caulk gun.

2)  Add or replace weather stripping around doors and windows – this is peel-and-stick easy!

3)  Wrap windows – easy shrink wrap products are available so anyone with a pair of scissors and a blow dryer can do this one.

4)  Remove window air conditioning units if possible; otherwise, add solid foam insulation and put an insulated cover over the exterior panels to help prevent drafts.

5)  Replace existing blinds or curtains with ones that have thermal backing – no tools required.

Interiors

1)  Check attic insulation. Energy Star® recommends adding a layer of R38 insulation in wood frame structures with 3-4 inches of existing insulation. I recommend wearing a disposable jumpsuit and gloves if adding fiberglass insulation. It’s easy to use but can be just a bit itchy.

2)  Clean or replace filters in heating systems and humidifiers to improve air quality.

3)  Inspect and clean fireplaces before use. Nothing is better than sitting in front of the fire on a cold night, but no one wants an unexpected call to 911.

4)  Install programmable thermostats. This allows you to reduce the energy spent during the hours you are at work or asleep.

The Great Outdoors

1)  Clean and secure those gutters. Clogged gutters can allow snow and ice to build up and force water inside your walls and ceiling. Loose gutters can be pulled away from your home under the pressure of heavy snow and ice, allowing water to fall directly down toward your foundation. A sturdy ladder, a heavy pair of gloves, and no fear of heights are all you need (which is why this one gets delegated to my husband).

2)  Make sure water from downspouts flows away from your foundation. If you don’t have time to re-grade your lawn, inexpensive downspout extenders can help.

3)  Shut off water to exterior faucets and drain the pipes. If this is not possible, make sure pipes are well insulated. You can even buy a cover for your exterior faucet. All pipes that run along exterior walls are susceptible to freezing when the temperature drops. Let me tell you as someone who knows from experience: cleaning up from a burst water pipe is not fun!

4)  Drain sprinkler heads and remove and store hoses inside.

5)  Service your snow blower now. Don’t wait until there are 8 inches of snow on the ground to realize the oil needs changed and the spark plug is dead. Having a full gas can on hand doesn’t hurt either.

For additional information on energy-efficient home improvements, please visit www.energystar.gov. Two additional resources that I like are www.bobvila.com and www.diynetwork.com.

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Posted in Banking Basics, Mortgages and Homeownership.

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