Six winter home preps

Winter is on the way, and it brings with it gusty winds and freezing temperatures. The frigid weather can take its toll on us, but it can also do damage to your home. Before the cold season sets in, here are some DIY projects to tackle to get your home ready for winter.

Fix Your Furnace

Keeping your furnace in tip-top shape is key to saving money in the winter months. The first step in furnace maintenance is to check the filter. A dirty filter means you furnace has to work extra hard to heat your home, so it’s a good idea to change the filter every couple of months. Next, take a look at the burners. A well-functioning furnace should burn bright blue. If you see orange or yellow flames, it’s an indication that the burners need to be cleaned. Turn off the heat and vacuum the burners once the furnace has cooled. If that doesn’t fix the problem, it’s a good idea to call in an HVAC specialist to give your furnace a professional tune-up.

Program Your Thermostat

Studies show that most people fail to put their programmable thermostats to use, which is a pity because a few minutes spent setting it up can save you a ton of money. By setting your thermostat to drop the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees when you’re away at work, you can save between 5 and 15 percent on your monthly utility bill. For additional savings, you can also lower the temperature a few degrees after you go to sleep and invest in a warmer blanket.

Insulate the Attic

Because heat rises, an uninsulated attic can be a particularly costly problem in the home. A lack of insulation in the attic can also cause the snow on the roof to melt, which can create dangerous ice buildup around your gutters, as well as ice dams, which can damage your roof. Laying insulation in a tight space like an attic can be a tricky job, so if you haven’t worked with insulation before, it might be best to call in a contractor to handle it.

Winter Plant Care

Winter weather can be downright deadly for delicate plants. So before the snow starts to  fall, make sure your plants have the protection they need this winter. Small trees and shrubs should be wrapped in a few layers of burlap to keep the plants from being damaged by the wind. For more delicate plants, drive a few stakes in the ground around the plant and wrap the burlap around the stakes.

Clean Gutters

Once the leaves have finished falling, it’s time to check your gutters and clear them of any blockages. This will ensure that water can flow freely away from the home when the snow begins to melt in the spring. If you’re tired of cleaning out the gutters every fall, you can install a mesh cover over the gutters. Many of these gutter guards simply snap into place, making it an easy afternoon DIY project.

Hunt Down Leaks and Drafts

When it comes to wasted energy around the home, leaks and drafts are usually the biggest contributor. However, it can sometimes be hard to find the source of the cold air seeping into the home. To aid your search, grab an infrared thermometer, which will allow you to instantly detect temperature shifts in the home. The most common places for drafts to occur include the areas around windows, doors, outlets and exterior vents. Once you’ve tracked down the leaks, it’s time to insulate. Use caulking around hard smooth surfaces like windows, weather stripping around doors, and soft insulation in recessed areas such as electrical sockets.