During the dog days of summer, preparing your home for winter is the last thing most homeowners want to think about. However, anticipating a season or two ahead is beneficial. It is generally easier to perform work in the nicer months, and paying for preventative maintenance is less expensive than responding to emergencies.
A winter checklist that focuses on maintenance priorities can help you keep your home in top shape through the winter, avoiding the need for extensive repairs later, boosting energy efficiency, and saving you time and money. Here are some key areas of home winterization to consider this fall.
Exterior home condition
A big part of preparing your home for winter is performing a walk around your property. Bring your camera so you can take photos of hard-to-reach and high spots that you might need to blow up to inspect for things like insect damage and dry rot.
Address and repair any signs of exterior damage, such as rotting sills or soffits, masonry cracks, and flaking paint. Also, check for leaks around outside faucets and seal off any gaps to prevent vermin from entering your home. If you have a chimney, ensure that its flue is properly maintained and that it’s been serviced by a professional to avoid potential fires. Staying on top of minor maintenance issues like these can prevent greater, more costly damage to your home.
Fall is the ideal time for thinning dead branches from your trees and shrubs. During the fall, trees are dormant and more disease tolerant. For the same reason, it’s not advisable to undertake new planting at that time since trees and shrubs find it more difficult to take root.
Aside from the exercise benefits, raking leaves is essential for promoting lawn growth in the spring. Retaining dead leaves as cover inhibits grass while encouraging opportunistic weeds to take root.
Keeping pests and weeds under control requires mulch. Since mulch is prone to moving around and being displaced by wind and rain, think of mulching as a year-round endeavor. Mulching is important right before winter to give you a good start on spring planting and to deter weed growth when spring rains start.
For grassy areas, keep your lawn at an optimal 2.5-3.0 inch height during the fall. This is the ideal height to deter pests. Water during the early evening two to three times a week, for a total of about one inch of water per week. Once winter sets in, you won’t need to mow or water as often unless you live in a very warm climate.
Preparing your home for winter by keeping your lawn and garden beds in great shape leads to less time and energy spent on yard work in the spring.
By going through a winter home checklist and making some simple adjustments, you can maintain your comfort and lower your energy costs. One tip that most homeowners are not aware of is to reverse the blades of your ceiling fans to promote warm airflow as a downdraft. Sealing the drafty areas under exterior doors and ensuring your windows are sealed against outside air is also essential for retaining heat during winter.
Another simple way to lower your energy bill is to turn the temperature down on your hot water heater. Most people have it set at 140 degrees, but you can draw comfortably hot water at a temperature a few degrees lower. If it’s in your budget, consider installing a tankless hot water heater. While they are expensive initially, these units can offer a 25-50% annual energy savings that offset the cost in a comparatively short amount of time, depending on your energy use.
If you live in a cold climate, turn off your exterior faucets and store your hoses and tools in a shed or indoor location for the winter. Planning ahead is a simple way to make life easy and maintain your home’s value when the weather brightens. Consider purchasing a dedicated storage shed. These have become available in a variety of architectural styles to suit almost any home.
First Centennial Mortgage provides a wide range of home loans for new and experienced homebuyers alike. Preparing your home for winter is an important way to save on maintenance costs year-round. We look forward to financing your new home or refinancing your existing home on terms that let you spend more on valuable home maintenance projects.