As autumn gives way to winter, leaves aren’t the only things that will be falling. Making sure that your house is ready for dropping temperatures can help you lower your energy bills, and create several ways to save money on costly home repairs. By taking preventative measures indoors and out, you can rest easy knowing your house is ready to take on whatever winter might bring.
If you live in an area prone to snow and ice, there are several outdoor precautions to keep in mind. First, take a moment to examine the trees around your home, looking for any visibly dead branches or limbs that could break and land on your house or driveway. Weighed down by snow and ice, branches can easily snap, proving both dangerous and costly. Remove the potential for peril by contacting a local landscape professional.
Roofs and gutters also require special attention. Whether you do it yourself or call in the help of a professional, inspect your roof for any weak or exposed areas. Even if you haven’t had any leaks in the past, a blanket of snow can be a quick catalyst for disaster. Also, when the last leaves have fallen, give your gutters a thorough cleaning. After removing all the debris, rinse out the gutters with a hose, paying close attention to the water flow, and to the downspout. To prevent the potential for flooding, be certain the spout is facing away from your home’s foundation. The water should not pool there but instead should flow freely away from the structure.
Windows & Doors
Direct special attention to windows and doors, which are often sources for uninvited drafts — and a space where heated air can seep out of your home. Start by examining doors, looking for any cracks, splinters and holes in the framing. Small areas can easily be filled with caulk, while larger spaces are better suited to expanding foam. If there’s a gap beneath a door, use a rolled-up towel for a short-term fix. Later, purchase a door sweep from a local hardware store. Check your windows for similar gaps, using regular caulk to fill small spaces and heavier “rope caulk” for larger cracks. For a significant long range energy savings, replace any older, single-pane windows with insulated alternatives or with removable storm windows.
Insulation is an excellent way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Begin your work in the attic and basement, since both spaces are culprits for heat loss. Consider purchasing an insulating blanket for your water heater. Doing so can decrease heat loss by as much as 40 percent, translating to increased energy bill savings. Electrical outlets are another area that can benefit from extra insulation. Outlets are typically not insulated and can easily allow hot air to leak out and cold air to creep in. To prevent this, purchase foam padding that can easily fit inside electrical outlets and light switch facings.