As winter approaches, it's important to take some steps to prepare your home for the colder weather. This can save you big bucks on the heating bill, and as a homeowner we all know how important it is to maintain the greatest investment we have and protect it from potential damage.
(Tip #10 might be the most important when living on Whidbey Island, don't miss it!)
Small leaks can reduce your home's energy efficiency by as much as 30% annually! This leakage can be significantly reduced with some straightforward and affordable caulking of windows and weather stripping on doors. Below are a couple videos that will help you if you want to take on these projects yourself.
The attic is where insulation is most useful.
Unfortunately, the attic insulation in the majority of homes is either nonexistent or inadequate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that attics have at least R-38 insulation, which is generally 10 to 14 inches deep.
The hot air in the rooms below won't be able to enter the attic if the attic floor is adequately insulated. Caulking any ceiling penetrations—holes around pipes, ducts, and wires—as well as installing an insulated cover over the attic hatchway or stairs are equally crucial.
You could also look into getting your crawl space insulation on lock as well!
Or this video for installation tips:
In the winter, even the greatest, tightest-sealing windows seem a little chilly. Cover windows with insulated shades, heavy or thermal insulated curtains, or you can also get easy to install plastic shrink kits to make spaces seem warmer.
Creosote accumulation or animal nests might be dangerous in your wood-burning fireplace. Before lighting the first fire of the season, have an annual inspection. In addition to creosote the chimney can accumulate soot and other waste that an inspection will help identify.
An inspection can tell you wether or not your chimney needs to be cleaned, and if it is needed, it's best to have a professional get the job done. Additionally, clean out any ash that has accumulated in the firebox using a vacuum or broom.
Likewise, regular cleaning and maintenance are needed for an electrical or propane fireplace. To maintain your model running smoothly and safely, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Are you the DIY type? Below are some links for chimney cleaning supplies, and a how to video:
Gutter cleaning is a crucial aspect of getting ready for winter. As soon as the last of the autumn leaves have fallen, it's a good idea to get the gutters cleaned. Examine and clear the gutters of leaves and other debris to avoid clogs. Additionally, clear gutters will enable appropriate drainage of melting snow.
Gutter guards are an option to consider if you want to prevent gutter cleaning. They can be manufactured of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), aluminum, or stainless steel and help keep leaves, pine needles, grit from roofs, and other debris out of your gutter. To maintain the guards' full efficiency, they periodically need to be brushed off, but this is not as laborious as regular cleaning.
Remember to disconnect and drain all exterior hoses and irrigation. You don’t want them damaged! In addition, it is wise to cover your outside faucets to prevent pipes from bursting. They are pretty easy to install.
A clean filter helps improve the efficiency of your furnace. The airflow is obstructed by a filthy filter that has dust, pollen, lint, and other debris trapped inside of it, which makes your furnace work harder to heat your house. Filters should be changed at least every three months.
Same goes for your HP-mini split, except most filters only need to be replaced once a year. They can also be cleaned regularly (at least once a month), to improve efficiency.
Again I must reiterate how important it is to protect your most important investment. There are few things worse than a damaged roof that leads to water damage! So, get up there yourself to check for damaged shingles, or pay a professional to take a look.
Protect your beautiful plants & landscaping! Adding a layer of mulch can protect some plants from frostbite, but you may even have potted plants you want to bring indoors for the winter.
They also offer cheap hoop house kits on amazon that are great for a little winter gardening!
You can also check out these cheap DIY hacks to protect your plants in Winter:
On Whidbey it is pretty much inevitable that we will see some winter power outages. If you rely on electric heating, your home's temperature will drop quickly throughout the winter, posing a serious threat to everyone's safety, especially when it drops below freezing. Even as the storm rages outside, a generator can keep your furnace running or at least a space heater or two, until the main power is restored, keeping you warm and cozy. Other benefits include charging your mobile devices, powering your internet router and wifi, and making sure your fridge/freezer continue running as needed.
One might think it goes without saying, but for safety reasons it is worth mentioning that if you are using a generator, it needs to be ran outside to avoid getting carbon monoxide poisoning which can be lethal. You also might invest in getting a cover to protect your outside generator from the elements.