We all want to do what we can to stay warm during the winter months. This article is written as a guide and resource to winterize your home. It is best to make a check list and have a plan so you can remember everything. You should be able to winterize your home both indoors and outdoors in one weekend. By winterizing your home you can increase energy efficiency by 45%. Supplies can be purchased at stores like Walmart, Target or The Home Depot.
Put a cover over both the outside and the inside of your air conditioner. Make sure your attic insulation is a minimum of 12 inches. Change your furnace filter monthly to prevent a fire. Make sure the heat ducts are connected and insulated to prevent heat loss, which if not connected can be 60%. Inspect your chimney and put a cap on it to prevent foreign objects from getting in. Close the chimney damper when not using the fireplace. Stock up on firewood. For safety keep glass doors open when burning a fire. Install storm doors and storm windows. Window insulation kits are inexpensive, you can put plastic around the windows using a blow dryer. You can also use caulk and weather stripping. Roll up a towel or blanket and put it by the bottom of the front and back door.
Conserve Energy for Tax Credit
Reverse all ceiling fans so when you look up they move clockwise to push warm air down. Change the battery on your smoke alarm and test it. Make sure the carbon monoxide detector is showing a green light. When you turn on the thermostat pick one temperature and keep it there. Call your local public service to winterize your home for a federal tax credit of $500 to $1,500. Low-income homes can get a tax credit up to $6,500 from state government programs. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees. Buying a new water heater can get you a federal tax credit up to $1,500.
Protect Your Home Exterior
Clean the gutters by removing leaves and vacuuming any dust and dirt out. This keeps ice from forming and blocking the pipes forcing water to run into the house. Make sure the water faucet to the outside is turned off inside and drain the pipes and the garden hoses. My father brings the garden hoses inside and puts them in the basement for the winter. Wrap exposed pipes with heat tape to prevent them from bursting. Cover window wells with plastic shields. Replace worn shingles on the roof to prevent water leaks.
Ready the Outside
Protect your yard; rake the leaves, trim the shrubbery/bushes, prune the trees and cover the plants. Bring your sensitive potted plants inside. Mow the lawn and drain the gas from the lawn mower. Put the lawn furniture in the garage, shed, a pod or a storage unit. If you have an outdoor pool drain the water from the pool and supply lines and cover the pool. Check the snow blower. One year my father did not check his snow blower, during the first snow storm of the season his snow blower did not start. He called to have it serviced and they could not get to it for three weeks. He had a family member come over and look at his snow blower. He ended up buying a new snow blower after the first snow storm of the season.
Guard Your Home from Insects and Rodents
Set traps under the sink, on the counter, in the basement, laundry room, and garage. Mice do not like moth balls. If you have a problem with mice I suggest picking up moth balls in addition to mouse traps. I have seen success with the pest repelling plugins. The plugins only work if the problem is in the walls. Plugins turn your home wiring into a pest repellent force field. If the insects and rodents are coming in through holes like the side of the garage door when the door is down the plugins will not work. Mice can slip through a very small space.
Prepare For an Emergency Evacuation
Keep flashlights, candles and matches nearby. Place the utility company’s phone numbers by your phone. Make sure you have a battery backup for your computer and electronics. Store bottled water, non-perishable food, pet food and blankets where you will be able to find them. Write down where you would go if you have to leave your home. Have your snow shovel ready to keep snow and ice cleared from the steps and entrances. Make sure you have ice-melt and sand. Do not use hot water to melt ice it will freeze making the situation worse. To avoid back pain push the snow. If you have to lift the snow pick it up a little bit at a time using your legs not your back. Keep an emergency car kit ready.
Get Yourself Ready
Pull out winter clothes, flannel sheets and blankets. Put on a sweater. A light long sleeve sweater can warm you up by 2 degrees. A heavy long sleeve sweater can warm you up by 4 degrees. Think layers. For dry air inside use a humidifier to help with sinus problems. Stock up on lip balm, Kleenex and lotion for your skin. Take out your winter coat, scarf, hat/ear muffs, mittens/gloves and snow boots to make sure they all still fit. Get a flu shot. Enjoy the season.