There may be more adages, proverbs and axioms about preparing for the future than any other subject, and you could probably apply all of them to getting your home and yard ready for winter. Preparing your property for winter saves both money and energy. Of course, whenever you're saving energy, you're saving money as well. Along with that, harsh winter weather can cause damage that, either immediately or over time, adds up to additional homeowner costs. Let's take a look at a few tasks you may want to put on your to-do list.
Inspect your window coverings, and if you do not already have them, shutters can be a great addition. Not only do they give you a lot of decorative options, but also, they help to heat your home in the cooler months. Open shutters to allow sunlight to enter on those bright winter days and take advantage of some free solar heating. Close the shutters when the sun is not shining to help prevent heat loss.
Mulch and Protect Plants
When plants aren't well established, they can be very susceptible to damage over the winter. A
thick layer of mulch can help plants survive harsh conditions and revive more quickly in the
spring. If you live in an area of occasional frost, be sure to have material on hand to cover tender
plants in the case of a sudden cold snap.
Check your Insulation
Do you have adequate attic and floor insulation? The Department of Energy and Department of
Environmental Protection have joined forces for the Energy Star program. They've posted a map
of the country with recommended insulation levels for attics and floors. Find your county on the
map and compare the recommended "R" values to what you currently have.
Inspect your Hot Water Tank
Take a look at your hot water tank. If it is in an unheated area, be sure it's equipped with a hot
water tank blanket. These blankets tend to sag and fall away from tanks over the years. Make
sure yours is properly in place and install a new one if it's beginning to tear. Also, ensure that
exposed hot water pipes are fitted with foam insulating tubes that extend all the way down to the
top of the tank itself. You might also consider on-demand hot water appliances for kitchen, bathroom or utility room sinks.
Watch your Weatherstripping
We use weatherstripping in places where there are moving parts, such as around our doors and
windows, which means that it does wear out over time and can become dislodged. The best
time to inspect weatherstripping is before the cold weather hits. Refit dislodged weatherstripping
and replace worn or torn weatherstripping. Check with your local utility provider; sometimes they
offer programs or promotions to help in this area.
Review your Winter Supply Cache and Equipment
Do you have sufficient salt on hand to deal with the season's first snowcovered
or icy walkways? Watch for sales on such items at big box stores and stock up. If your area tends to experience power failures during severe winter storms, make sure you have adequate supplies
on hand. Also, check important equipment like snowblowers and generators. Be sure they have fresh fuel and will start easily when needed.
Winter can be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, and when you're properly prepared,
you are much more likely to enjoy all that it has to offer.
Emily Turberville-Tully, who writes for Purely Shutters, enjoys gardening, spending time with her young sons, traveling abroad or going for a drive in the English countryside.
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