Get Ready for Winter with This Fall Home Checklist

Winter can be beautiful, but it can also be stressful and expensive. By doing a little prep work, you can avoid frustrations and even lower some bills. Making sure that everything you need is shipshape and in running order is essential to be prepared for both the expected and unexpected.

Service Your Heater

I get my heater serviced in the late summer or early fall, because it’s cheaper. After the cold hits, companies can charge much more to make up for lost repair revenue. A yearly checkup can save potential costs for an avoidable emergency repair.

Make sure kerosene or portable heaters are operating correctly before you have to crank them up during a power outage. Store a few gallons of kerosene as well, if possible.

Have Wood Burning Stoves Cleaned and Stock Wood

The most important thing to do with wood burning stoves and fireplaces is to clean the chimney and have flues working properly. I’ve seen a wood burning stove blow out of a fireplace because of a chimney fire, and it’s terrifying. Flames shooting 10 feet in the air out of your chimney and the risk of losing your home isn’t worth saving money on a thorough chimney cleaning.

When I heated partially with my fireplace, I supplemented seasoned wood with a green wood to save money. Make sure your woodshed is watertight and in good repair so you don’t end up with wet, unusable wood at the worst possible time. Wood pellets and firewood are much cheaper in the summer and early fall if you have a storage space.

Insulate the Leaks

This is the #1 thing you can do to lower your energy bills. Fall is a good time to add extra ceiling insulation, since the attic is cooler.

The #2 thing to do is check the weatherstripping around doors and windows. A good test is to hold a strip of tissue paper close to the frames on a windy day. If it moves, you need more weatherstripping.

Insulate Your Windows with Shades or Insulated Curtains

The cheapest way to insulate your windows is by replacing those cute mini blinds with heavy duty shades. Shades have been shown to raise the temperature in a room as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. In extremely cold climates, decrease heat loss even more with insulated drapes and curtains. They darken the room, but EFL bulbs are cheaper to run than a heater.

Prepare for Snowstorms Ahead of Time

If you own a snow blower, get it into good running order before the snow hits. I can’t imagine anything that would be more frustrating than having two feet of snow and a snow blower that won’t start. If you use snow shovels, be sure that they are clean and oiled and put in a readily accessible place. Remember to have a ladder ready to clear snow from the roof and make sure that wheelbarrow or cart is ready to haul wood.

Insulate Pipes and Ductwork

To prevent busted pipes, add insulation before cold weather hits. Wrapping ductwork, especially old aluminum ductwork, can prevent heat loss through loose joints and simply through the metal, and save on heating bills.

Get Your Winter Emergency Kit Stocked

If all else fails and you are stranded by a winter storm, be sure you have your emergency kit ready. Lifehacker has helpful articles on what you should include in both a home and a winter car emergency kit.

Whatever you can afford to do, do it. Don’t get caught unprepared when winter weather arrives.

More by Deborah Aldridge

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Creating Storage Space for Stockpiling
How to Relieve Neck Tension Headaches Without Medication

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