Winter is coming, and just like Winterfell and the rest of Westeros, we all have to be ready for everything that comes with it.
The best time to prepare your home for winter, of course, would be during the autumn. The fall, after all, has always been the herald of the transition from a landscape filled with vibrant-colored trees to a cold, dark, and desolate one. As we enjoy everything the autumn has to offer, we must also use that time to get ready for whatever the winter months decide to throw our way.
Here are some tips for preparing your home for the cold season.
For always, the biggest concern for any household during the winter is heating. Life during the winter months without a reliable heating system is simply unimaginable, especially when you live in a region where temperatures hover just a little bit above zero on a daily basis during the bitterly cold winter months.
To make sure you and your loved ones are warm and toasty all throughout the winter, you must get a tune-up performed on your heat pump or furnace.
An annual professional tune-up allows HVAC contractors to perform a thorough inspection of your heating system. They will make sure that all its moving parts are lubricated, its system components and heat exchanger cleaned, and all electrical and gas connections tight. They will also test system controls on startup, operation, and shut down as well as conduct a combustion efficiency test.
HVAC preventive maintenance, however, is not just the sole responsibility of the heating experts you hire. There are things that you can DIY such as clearing your heat pump’s outdoor unit of debris and all kinds of blockages, clearing the area around the furnace, and changing the filters of your heating system to ensure the best airflow possible.
Maintaining your heating system is a must to keep it running properly and efficiently, but any effort you make toward that end will all be for naught if drafts of cold air continue to make it inside your home, and your costly heated air escapes it through cracks in or around your windows.
If cold air readily enters your home and heated air makes it out with minimal effort, then you can expect to feel a chill not only when the draft hits your face, but also when you receive your energy bill.
The only solution for drafty windows is to winterize them by caulking around your windows’ outside perimeter and install weatherstripping inside.
However, before you winterize your windows, make sure your windows actually have leaks. You can check for drafts by moving a lit candle around a window’s frame. If the flame blows towards you at certain parts, then that window has a draft, and you can proceed with winterizing it.
To make sure you get the right products and proper installation guides, check with your local hardware store.
Of course, the leaks in your house won’t just be limited to the windows. Your doors can be an expressway for drafts. So can your walls and sidings. The truth is, hot air can be escaping through different parts of your house, and it’s up to you to locate whatever leak you can and plug it up.
As with your windows, you can use a lit candle to find drafts, or a digital thermometer if you want to go about it a little more high-tech. Once you find those leaks, use caulk for the smaller cracks and spray foam for the bigger gaps.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger to your entire household when you’re running a furnace for heat during the winter.
Odorless, tasteless, and colorless, carbon monoxide is difficult to detect. Your home needs to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, which will sound an alarm and give you enough time to open the windows and get out of the house before it’s too late.
To make sure you have the best CO alarms, choose only models that you can plug into an outlet and have a battery backup. It would also be a good idea to have one for every floor and bedroom, plugged into outlets closer to the floor since carbon monoxide tends to stay near the ground.
When you live in a region where the temperature can easily drop to zero and below, it would be a good idea to insulate your pipes, particularly those exposed outside your home or those in unheated spaces. Without insulation, those pipes will likely freeze and eventually burst. We can assure you that the flood that will likely result from it is a problem you don’t want to be dealing with in the middle of winter.
Your options for protecting your pipes include traditional pipe wrap insulation and tubular sleeves. Every part of the pipe should be covered, including the joints and bends. Use duct tape to seal the seams.
The ceiling fan that served you well during the summer can also do the same in the winter, that is, if it has a reverse switch.
Hot or warm air will always rise, but a ceiling fan running on reverse will create an updraft that will push warm air down into the room without giving you a chill. It can also help lower your energy bills because the extra heat will allow you to set your thermostat down a notch or two.
These are just some of the things that you need to do to make sure your home is ready for the onset of winter. Some of them might take some expense and a lot of effort, but if you consider all the possible inconveniences and in some cases, the damage that being unprepared for winter can bring, then you’ll know deep in your heart that it will be all worth it.