So it is the middle of December and we bet you are thinking, did I check everything off of my winter checklists?!
In case you need a refresher, here are some things to keep in mind as the weather turns colder and the snow and ice are just around the corner.
For the Home:
- Adding Attic Insulation. A properly insulated attic floor will prevent the heat in the rooms from flowing up into the attic.
- Caulk Cracks. Time to plug up those holes, cracks, and open seams that you found earlier in the year. This is the most effective way to stop cold air from wafting into the house. Pay attention to the outside of windows, doors, hose faucets, and where the siding overlaps the foundation.
- Install Storm Windows. If your home doesn’t have insulated glass windows, storm windows can provide an extra layer of protection from the cold air.
- Replace Door Weather Stripping. Do an inspection of all outside doors to make sure the weather stripping is still in good shape. To detect drafts of cold air try this trick: Take a stick of lighted incense and slowly pass it around the door. A breeze will make the smoke stream dance, letting you know where the air is leaking in.
- Change Furnace Filters. Change your furnace’s air filters every two months throughout the winter. Also, be sure to have your furnace tuned up annually by a licensed HVAC contractor.
- Install A Programmable Thermostat. This is a great way to save some $ by programming your heat in the morning when your family is up and getting ready for work and school, then lower the heat once everyone has left the house. If you buy a smart programmable thermostat, you can control the programming of your thermostat from anywhere using your phone or tablet.
- Install Electrical Outlet Gaskets. Surprisingly, cold air can blow in around electrical outlets. An easy affordable fix is to seal up the outlets with a foam-rubber outlet gasket. Remove the outlet cover plate, press the gasket over the electrical outlet, and then replace the cover.
- Reverse Ceiling Fans. Most fans have a switch – either on the motor housing or remote control – that allows you to reverse the fan blade rotation. During the summer time, the fan blade rotates counterclockwise to blow down cool air but in the winter the reverse fan blade will force warm air trapped at the ceiling down into the room.
- Hang Insulated Window Treatments. Rooms will feel warmer if you cover windows with insulated blinds or thick, quilted drapes.
- Insulate Hot Water Pipes. The insulation will keep the water inside the pipe so your water heater or boiler won’t have to work so hard. This will also help the hot water to come on faster, rather than having to wait for the water to warm up. There are two pipe insulation types: foam-rubber sleeves that slip onto the pipe and insulated wraps that you wind around the pipe.
- If out of the home for a period of time, shut off the water main in the lower level of the house and open the water valve. Set your thermostat to 60 degrees.
For the Vehicles:
- Have Your Car Serviced For Winter Conditions. This includes your car battery, cooling system, brakes, belts, hoses, spark plugs, wires and cables.
- Switch To Winter Tires. Snow tires will be better at gripping the road when temperatures hover around or below freezing.
- Maintain Tire Pressure. Check this more often in winter months as changes in temperature can mean a gain or loss of 1 PSI.
- Install Winter Wipers. The rubber on these wipers will keep ice from collecting on the blades.
- Keep Washer Fluid Full. One snow storm can exhaust a large amount of this fluid, so refill it often.
- Pack A Winter Safety Kit. In case of an emergency these supplies can help you out: flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, ice scraper, flares, non-perishable food & beverage items, jumper cables, cell phone and charger, warm clothing.
- Keep The Gas Tank At Least Half Full. A full tank can reduce condensation, which can prevent gas line freeze ups. If you are ever stranded, your engine might be the only thing to keep you warm until help arrives.
- Winter Emergency Preparedness. If you get stuck in a winter storm while driving: Do not leave your car for risk of losing sight of it, do not run your car for long periods but turn it on long enough to warm up and turn off again to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and put your dome lights on to attract attention.