No matter how much we hope, wish and pray otherwise, it’s inevitable – winter is coming. In the Maritimes, storm season has started with rain, but the white stuff will follow. In central Canada, the leaves are turning and falling, a sure sign of colder weather to come. And in Saskatchewan, snow has already fallen, so there’s proof that we can’t hold off the cold forever.
While we’re busy digging for the warmer clothes at the back of our closets, it’s also time to think of things we can or should do to prepare our largest “outer layer” – our homes or apartments – for winter. It’s time to consider a list of tasks that can be considered preventive maintenance, as well as those that will allow us to keep energy costs as low as the temperatures.
Run through this list of suggestions and tackle the tasks that are calling your name:
How to Winterize Windows:
- Install your storm windows to add an extra layer of insulation, or consider coating your windows with clear film that helps keep out the cold but not the light.
- Keep the curtains and blinds open during the day to let sunlight warm the rooms; close them at dark to keep the heat from escaping the room.
- Fix the cracks. Ten per cent of home air leaks occur around your windows, according to jeld-wen.ca. Prevent leakage by applying weather stripping and caulking or getting an insulation kit; your energy bill will also thank you.
- Remove air-conditioners that are set in windows so that you can close windows tightly.
- If drafts come in under the doors, use rubber strips to prevent them.
Winterize the Exterior of Your Home:
- Clear your gutters. Time for leaf patrol. Remove debris from the gutters and flush them with water. If your gutters are blocked, the resulting icicles and ice dams can cause damage to your roof and exterior walls.
- Check the unheated spaces like your basement and garage for exposed pipes. Insulate them to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
- Trim trees and bushes so that bushes aren’t overhanging your house, garage or driveway. If they are knocked down during a storm, they could potentially cause damage.
- If your home is brick, make sure the mortar doesn’t need repair.
Winter Home Maintenance – Check Your Heating:
- Have your furnace checked before the cold weather sets in; if it isn’t running properly, your heating costs will increase.
- To get the most from your furnace, clean the filter monthly and change it quarterly.
- Reduce the temperature when you leave the house and when you go to bed to save on heating costs. You can save up to three per cent on your heating bill for every degree you lower the temperature over time, says newinhomes.com. It will also help reduce greenhouse gases.
- Install an app that allows you to control the temperature of your home from your mobile device or buy a programmable thermostat.
- Place your thermostat where it won’t be affected by light, drafts, etc.
- Wear sweaters, socks and slippers to stay warm while allowing you to keep your thermostat lower.
- Have your ceiling fans clockwise to push heat back into the living space and keep it from pooling near the ceiling of rooms.
- Make sure all vents and baseboard heaters are clean so air can circulate efficiently.
- Insulate places where heat is lost easily, such as attics, basements and crawl spaces. If insulation anywhere is less than 20-centimetres thick, it’s time to add some.
- Close closet doors; there is no need to heat storage space, unless it contains pipes.
- If you have a fireplace, install an insert that directs most of the heat into the room, rather than up the chimney.
- Close your fireplace damper when the fireplace isn’t being used.
- If you use space heaters, clean them prior to winter usage. Dust and debris that build up on your heating coils could cause a fire.
Additional Winterizing Tips:
- Use your oven for baking or cooking during the colder hours of the day to keep the house warmer, suggests productivity501.
- Plant evergreen trees near the house to block the wind.
- Light switches can also be sources of cold air leaking into your home. Hold a tissue near them; if it flutters, air is escaping. Remove your switch plates and install special gaskets designed to prevent leaks.
- Adjust your light timers when you change the clocks so they are synchronized.
Don’t be daunted by the length of this list. You can pick and choose the tasks that are most relevant to your lifestyle, and if you’re lucky, winter is still weeks away, so you have time to check off the items that matter to you. Stay warm!