Winter always has a tendency to creep up on us when we’re least prepared for it.
Before you know it, the days are going to get shorter, the weather is going to get colder and drier, and you’ll be caught off guard by the first snowfall.
The good news is, if you’re reading this, you probably have at least a few weeks before you need to worry about these winter weather developments. So what are the most important things you can do to prepare?
Maintain Your Fireplace (or Get a Fireplace Insert)
Heating your home is arguably your biggest priority, since this is where you’re going to spend most of your time during the winter.
If you have a fireplace, now is a great time to maintain it, so you can use it properly during the most brutal winter storms.
Do you have a fireplace that no longer works or one that’s inefficient and inconvenient? A better option may be upgrading with a fireplace insert.
Fireplace inserts can use a variety of different fuel sources, such as wood, wood pellets, gas, or even electricity – and they tend to be much more efficient and convenient than older, more traditional fireplaces.
Check Your Central Heater
Next, you’ll want to inspect and maintain your central heater, if appropriate. It’s a good idea to change out the filter, inspect for any points of damage, clean various components within the heater, and turn it on to make sure it’s working properly.
If you notice anything wrong with your heater, you can contact a professional to make repairs; since you’ll be doing it in the offseason, you probably won’t have to worry about scheduling issues, and you may even be in line for a discount.
Safeguard Your Outdoor Spigots
If you have outdoor spigots, you’ll need to clear them out to avoid them being damaged by ice and minimize the risk of frozen pipes.
All you have to do is turn the shut off valve (often found in the basement), then drain whatever water is left in each spigot. Just remember to turn them back on when spring comes.
Clear Out Your Gutters (and Get a Roof Rake)
Ice dams can be highly destructive. Fortunately, they’re also preventable.
During the winter, a cycle of melting and refreezing can create dams of ice on the roof of your house that prevent water and snow from escaping; this can eventually get under your shingles and cause leaks and damage to your roof.
The best way to avoid ice dams is to clear out your gutters and downspouts. You can also invest in a “roof rake” or similar tool that allows you to clear snow off your roof to avoid this type of buildup.
Add More Insulation
If you’re concerned about the heat in your home, consider adding more insulation. Blown insulation is relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and it can make a massive difference in how well your home retains heat.
Consider Upgrading the Windows
Similarly, you may consider upgrading your windows. Windows are one of the biggest sources of heat leaks in a home, and if your windows are decades old or single-paned, they can make heating a home incredibly inefficient.
Paying for new windows can be expensive, so it’s not a project everyone can afford, but it can save you considerable money on your utility bills – and keep your house more comfortable in winter.
Invest In Space Heaters
If you’re on a tight budget, or if there are certain areas of your home that require more heating than others, you can invest in space heaters.
These small, portable devices put out a surprising amount of heat and don’t use much energy.
Reverse The Direction Of Your Ceiling Fans
Most modern ceiling fans can be easily reversed, causing them to spin in the opposite direction.
This allows you to recirculate warm air back to the ground, enabling you to heat your home more efficiently if you keep those fans running.
Assess Your Wardrobe
This is also a great opportunity to assess your wardrobe. Do you have ample coats, jackets, hats, gloves, boots, and other accessories to stay warm in winter? This is especially important if you plan on being outside frequently.
Prep An Emergency Kit
Finally, if you plan on driving in the winter, prepare an emergency kit. Basic items, like extra clothes and food, can keep you safe if you’re stranded, and some tools like shovels and kitty litter can get you out of a troublesome situation.
Most people dread the onset of winter, due to its persistent, cold dreariness. But if you’re adequately prepared for this inevitable season, it can become much more palatable.