Cooler months bring a unique set of challenges for keeping the house warm and safe from the elements. Winterizing a home can seem daunting. But the minute you take a step towards the goal, you realize your perception of the job was much worse than the reality.
Winter will be here within a few short months. Cooler months bring a unique set of challenges for keeping the house warm and safe from the elements.
Winterizing a home can seem daunting. But the minute you take a step towards the goal, you realize your perception of the job was much worse than the reality.
Here are 10 simple things you can do to button up your house for winter. We recommend picking one or two related to keeping your house warm (tips 1 through 5) and checking off all the tasks related to keeping it safe (tips 6 through 10).
1. Invest in a draft snake. Drafts can sap anywhere from 5 to 30 percent of your energy use, the U.S. Department of Energy reports. A draft snake or a rolled-up towel under the door can keep the cold air out and seal the heat in. There are lots of cute empty cases available on Etsy, like this cheery striped one for $18. Fill a case with orphaned socks and old t-shirts or even rice and beans.
2. Swap out summer curtains. Your windows can let cold air sneak in. Solve this problem by putting up heavier drapes in place of breezy summer curtains. Use weather stripping on the bottom of windows. Focus on the handful of windows that cause the bulk of your problem.
3. Test your furnace before you need it. You don't want to be stuck on the first cold night with a malfunctioning furnace and no available appointment times. This week, give your system a workout. While you're at it, swap out old filters. It takes two minutes but makes a difference in air quality as well as the system's efficiency.
4. Replace window screens with storm windows. If you've been procrastinating on this front, break the task down into smaller ones. Swap out two per day over the next week. If you're lucky enough to have helping hands, line the family up this weekend and turn the process into a contest. The person who changes the most screens in 20 minutes wins something (an ice cream treat, control of the remote for the week, relief from chores for the next week, etc.).
5. Tweak ceiling fans. Reverse the switch so your ceiling fan blows upward, towards the ceiling. It will circulate the warm air that has risen and save money on your heating bill.
6. Clean your gutters. Remove autumn leaves, which can cause problems when winter arrives. Clogged drains can create ice dams, which can back up and leak into your house. Skip the gym and get a workout the old-fashioned way.
7. Check your winter tools. Did you slog through last winter without an ice scraper in your car? Do you have a functioning snow shovel or snow blower? Take inventory of what you have and ensure it is in good working order.
8. Stock up on salt or sand for traction. You do not want to be caught empty-handed during the first snowstorm of the season.
9. Trim tree branches. While this is a good thing to do in general, this is especially true for those hanging close to the house or electrical wires. Remember, ice and snow can easily weigh them down.
10. Put fresh batteries in alarms. We recommend swapping out batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors the same day you set the clocks back. Make an appointment with yourself for Nov. 6 to do just that.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.