The tell-tale signs of winter are here: you’re late to work because you can’t bring yourself to get out of the warm bed and your car has trouble starting because of the below-freezing temperatures.
As the cold weather moves in, you may be tempted to flee to a warmer climate. But for most of us, jobs, family and other responsibilities prevent us from becoming expats in the Caribbean.
Instead, it would be wise to focus on how we can make our lives more comfortable and warm with manageable home improvements. Let’s explore seven ways to prep your home for the chilly weather that winter inevitably brings.
Clean Your Chimney and Gather Firewood
There is nothing more quintessentially winter than curling up next to the fireplace. But a poorly maintained fireplace can cause damage to your home and your health. Hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney, and ask him or her how to clean it yourself.
Check your chimney flue and cap to ensure they are operating correctly. A missing or loose cap could create water damage or encourage little critters to nest near the warmth of the fire. Store your firewood in a dry place and ready your shovel and poker so that you don’t have to touch the hot surfaces directly.
Check Windows and Doors for Leaks
You might remember your grandparents carrying on about drafts, but they were on to something. Check out the weather stripping around exterior doors, and install storm doors as an extra layer of protection if you’ve got them. Caulk around windows when you see gaps to keep cold air where it belongs.
Insulate Your Garage Door
Most people think to check windows and doors, but your garage door should also get some love. Consider an insulated garage door, which will keep energy costs down and cut down on noise pollution.
There is an added benefit to updating your garage door: since it is one of the largest exterior surfaces of your home, you can add a lot of curb appeal by updating its style. So this move makes sense economically and aesthetically in addition to warming you up this winter.
Inspect Your Furnace and Boiler
Many of us just assume our heating and hot water will come on when we want it to, no questions asked. If pressed, you might not even be able to say where your furnace and boiler are, or how they function.
The system of pipes and heating varies from home to home, but the one consistent is that they should be inspected every winter. If it is time to replace older systems, expect to gain some energy efficiency and lower your bills.
Purchase a Generator
Lots of people who lived through Snowmaggedon or the Polar Vortex remember living without power for days on end. At first the candlelight was charming, but that wore off quickly.
A generator would provide a backup power source should you lose power in your home. If you want a generator for convenience or for safety – say, if a family member needs refrigerated medication or an electric medical device – there are several factors to consider. Among them are installation, sound and cost. But if an alternate power source is a must for you, then purchasing a generator is an important part of getting your home ready for winter.
Drain the Outdoor Plumbing, Ready for Frozen Pipes
One of the most common winter mistakes first time homebuyers make is not draining the water from faucets and hoses that sit outside the home. Frozen pipes can burst and cause immense damage to the home. Disconnect hoses and store them inside to prevent freezing and cracking.
Once you’ve got the outdoor plumbing taken care of, be on the looking for indoor plumbing that might freeze, like pipes that sit against exterior walls. If your faucet produces just a drip of water, it’s a sign of a frozen pipe. Leave the faucet on, and apply heat using a hair dryer, towels soaked in hot water or an electric heating pad. As the pipe thaws, water will drip out of the open faucet. Continue until your regular water pressure is restored.
Prepare Your Pantry
The kitchen is probably the hub of activity in your home, and for that reason it should get a little winter preparation as well.
Stock the pantry with chicken broth, canned beans and crushed tomatoes so that you can pull together a quick chili in a pinch. Grab cocoa and marshmallow for the requisite hot chocolates. And update your recipe box with some popular winter recipes, so that you can keep your family warm inside and out.
Most of us look forward to the holidays, more time spent before the fire and cozy scarves and mittens. But the reality of a cold, harsh winter is anything but romantic. So prepare your home for winter weather before the snow men show up in your front yard.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.