Sunset in a winter forest in tips to winterize your home

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Tips to Winterize Your Home

November 20, 2015News, Resources

The 2016 Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a “super cold winter” – as well as a “slew of snow” for much of the United States. As the weather outside turns frightful, make sure that you and your family keep your home safe and healthy by following these tips to winterize your home.

Be Prepared

Shovel being pushed through snow in tips to winterize your home

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Be sure you’re not caught off guard if severe winter weather affects your area. Here are some basic supplies that you and your family should have on hand for winter storms:

  • Snow shovels – Snow and ice make it difficult to get out of the house safely. Keep snow shovels handy to clear sidewalks and walkways around your home.
  • Ice melt – Store bags of ice melt in a garage or shed to clear driveways and walkways after winter storms. Sand can also help create traction if you have to move any vehicles.
  • Heating fuel – If you have advance warning of winter storms bringing heavy snowfall or extreme temperatures, stock up on heating fuel, where appropriate (oil, propane, etc.) If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, purchase bundles of fire wood from your local home goods or hardware store.
 Also, be sure that your home’s exterior is ready for winter. Heavy snowfall and ice can cause significant damage to roofs. If possible, have a contractor check the structural stability of your roof before winter.

Prevent Pipe Problems

A pipe showing freeze damage in tips to winterize your home

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Frozen pipes present a huge problem for many households in colder climates. As the temperature drops, water can freeze and expand in pipes, causing leaks and even burst pipes.

This can cause thousands of dollars in water damage to your home. There are some simple actions that you can take to keep your pipes from freezing:

  • In advance of strong winter storms or extreme cold temperatures, keep your faucets running slightly. Even a slight trickle can prevent water in pipes from freezing solid and causing damage.
  • Insulating your pipes is a great proactive measure to keep pipes from freezing in the winter. Pipe sleeves are inexpensive, but very effective. In a pinch, even a layer of newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes.
  • Keep cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. However, be sure to remove any harmful or hazardous cleaners before leaving kitchen and bathroom cabinets open that are within reach of small children.

If your pipes do freeze, applying heat can help prevent leaks and other costly damages. Use an electric heating pad or hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes. Do not use any open flame source to thaw pipes.

 Heat Your Home Efficiently

Feet of a family wearing woolen socks warming near the fireplace in tips to winterize your home

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Don’t burn money to keep your home warm in winter months. There are small, inexpensive fixes you can make to be sure that you are heating your home in an efficient and cost-effective way:

  • Use natural sunlight to help heat your home in the winter months by opening curtains and shades on southern facing windows during sunny days.
  • Caulking or weatherstripping is a quick and inexpensive way to seal drafts and air leaks around doors and windows.
  • If your home has a usable fireplace, keep the damper closed when you are not burning a fire. If you never use your home’s fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flume.
  • If you choose to decorate your home for the holidays, save on your electric bill by using LED lights, as opposed to traditional bulbs.

Following these simple tips will help ensure a more enjoyable winter in the comfort and warmth of your own home!  Be sure to check out more energy-saving tips in our News & Resources section.

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