Vol. 1, Issue 5October 2009


Getting Your House Ready for Winter

Summer is definitely over. The days are shorter, the nights are crisp. Winter is just around the corner. But you still have time to get your home ready for the season of cold and snow. And you will help save money and keep yourself and your family safer in the bargain.

  • Get your furnace serviced. Have a professional inspect and service your furnace and humidifiers to identify any potential safety hazards and to make sure they are running at peak efficiency. If your furnace has filters, change them regularly. This not only makes your furnace run more efficiently – and therefore less expensively – but it can improve the air quality inside your home. And make sure your heat vents are open and are not blocked by big pieces of furniture.

  • Check for leaks. You don’t want the cold air coming in through leaky windows and doors. Use caulk or weatherstripping to stop leaks; you also might consider the plastic window insulation that you put on and then shrink to fit, using a hairdryer. If your windows have serious leaks, consider replacing them with more-energy-efficient options.

  • Get your fireplace ready. Have a professional inspect and clean your chimney and firebox. And remember to keep your flue closed when you are not using the fireplace, so that warm air does not escape up the chimney.

  • Clean your gutters. Once the leaves are all down, either clean your gutters or have someone else do it. This can prevent ice damming, which can damage your roof and cause water leakage in your home.

  • Keep animals out. Make sure you have animal-proof screens on your chimneys, dryer vent and any other opening to the outside. Otherwise, you might find yourself providing a cozy winter home for critters like squirrels or raccoons.

  • Replace the battery in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire officials recommend that you check the detectors at least twice a year, when the time changes. Make sure you know where your fire extinguishers are, and replace any you have had for more than 10 years.

  • Take care of your plants. Prune, trim and mulch as needed, to protect outdoor plants and shrubs from the cold. Bring more delicate plants indoors for the winter.

  • Make sure your snow blower is tuned up, and get your snow shovels out of the back of the garage. Stock up on sidewalk salt. You don’t want to have to drive out to battle the rest of the world for shovels and salt when the first big snow hits.

  • Get ready for emergencies. Make sure you have flashlights (and batteries), a battery-powered radio (and batteries), a fully charged cell phone (batteries again), candles and firewood, in case you lose power in a blizzard. Know how to turn off your water in case your pipes freeze. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra food and water, just in case.

    Photo © Marc Floessel |