Winter is right around the corner, and if you haven’t already prepared your home for winter, now is the time. The changing seasons bring changing weather in the form of colder temperatures, snow, and even rain. Preparing everything will give you peace of mind in knowing that you and your home are ready and optimized for whatever comes. This article will cover the checklist of things to check inside and outside your home to prepare for winter weather.
Preparing the Exterior of Your Home for Winter
Getting your home ready for winter requires you to look on the outside and the inside of the house. So, let’s start outside, and we’ll work from the top down of the exterior and then cover everything you need to prepare for the interior of your house.
Check the Roof
This is a good time of year to check the roof for any weak spots or areas where the shingles or flashing may need to be replaced. Winter brings more rain in Texas and occasionally even snow. Taking care of any minor issues with the shingles can prevent major leaks and eventual water damage. If you can’t get up on the roof or check everything from a ladder, consider calling a professional to handle it.
Clean the Gutters
Moving down, the next thing is to clean the gutters on your home. Often, the fallen leaves from autumn can clog up the gutters and prevent them from draining properly. This can lead to water dams on the roof or along the roofline, a perfect situation for leaks and water damage. Have the gutters cleaned before winter so you can rest easy knowing they’re prepared for easy draining.
Check and Fill Exterior Gaps
Heating and cooling costs make up nearly 50% of your electricity bill, so it is worth your effort (we’ll cover more tips when we move inside) to ensure your HVAC system is set up for optimum performance. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure that your home isn’t leaking conditioned air. Walk around the entire exterior of your home and look for areas where air could be escaping. Expanding foam is an easy solution to fill gaps.
Drain Water Lines
Most of the winter in Texas is relatively mild compared to other regions of the country, but we still do get our share of days where the temperature can drop below freezing. Drain and blow out your sprinkler lines in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to eliminate any residual water that could freeze, expand, and crack the lines or sprinkler heads. Many irrigation companies offer winterization specials if you’re unsure how to winterize your system.
If you don’t use your hose during the winter, it’s best to drain that and put it away for the summer. Put an outdoor faucet cover over any exposed outside spigots to help protect them from freezing.
If you have a pool, take the necessary steps to winterize it according to its specifications or have your pool maintenance company take care of it.
Put Summer Items Away
Do you want to set yourself up for a super easy launch into summer next year? Then prepare all your summer items for storage and put them away for winter. This includes yard furniture, grills, recreational equipment, and anything else that is a lot easier to put away while clean and they’ll be ready to take out in the spring ready to go. That’s a much easier approach than leaving your belongings out to be ravaged by the elements.
If you have equipment, like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, that contains gas in your shed or garage, and you’re not planning on using these items during the winter, drain them or use up the gas. It can go bad, and it’s better for your equipment to have them sit empty.
Preparing the Interior of Your Home for Winter
Alright, so now that we’ve covered the outside, let’s head indoors and cover the chore checklist you’ll want to accomplish to prepare your home for winter. Like the outside, let’s start at the top and work our way down.
Check Insulation in the Attic
Once a year, look at the insulation in the attic to make sure that it’s still thick and provides good coverage. If there are any spots that are thin or uncovered, put a few rolls of insulation on your shopping list and add where it’s needed. You can also call in a professional spray-foam installer. It’s more expensive, but gets into all the nooks and crannies so well that it’s about 50% more effective.
Have the Furnace Serviced
As long as you have the attic door open, schedule an appointment with an HVAC technician if it’s been a while since you’ve had routine maintenance performed on your system. Checking all the ductwork and blowing the drain lines clear are just a few quick tasks that will ensure your system will be reliable all winter long.
Replace Your Furnace Filters
Have you replaced your furnace filter this month? If not, add it to the list. Many people find that they fall behind simply because it’s easy to forget to buy furnace filters or require a special trip to find the right size. One easy way to change them regularly is to simply put a box of furnace filters on your Amazon Prime account and set it up for autoshipment. We’re not endorsing Amazon, but it is one way to keep consistent.
Seal the Gaps Inside Your Home
Remember how you went around the exterior of your home and looked for gaps to seal? Let’s continue that effort inside. Start in the attic — check all the nooks and crannies. Both old and new homes alike are notorious for open, drafty areas that let conditioned air out (and insects and other critters in!). Expanding foam and caulk are just a few solutions you can use. Check along all your windows and doors, and replace any weather stripping that’s worn or leaky.
If you have any window-mounted air conditioner units, remove them for the winter. Creating a tight seal can be difficult, and simply closing the window is usually much easier.
Test the Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Checking the smoke alarms is a task you should do a few times throughout the year. Spring cleaning is one good time, and right before winter is another. Check the alarms and make sure everything works. If the batteries are nearing the end, replace them. Carbon monoxide is a risk with any furnace that burns fuel, and functioning detectors are a safeguard.
Protect Your Pipes
Do you have exposed pipes anywhere in your house? Now is the time to wrap a layer of insulation around them so that you have one more loose end tied up. It might seem like unnecessary busy work, but frozen pipes are one of the most common insurance claims during the winter months. Flooding is a lot easier to prevent than repair, so do yourself a favor and insulate any visible indoor piping, whether under the sinks, in the attic, in a closet, or anywhere else. You can also take it a step further and insulate your water heater to protect it and make it more efficient.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans, examine them for a little switch. Flipping can reverse the direction that the blades turn. In the winter, it’s best to have them rotate in a clockwise direction. According to Energy Star, this will create an updraft that pushes warm air down and helps the efficiency of the HVAC system’s efforts.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you celebrate any holidays around this time of year that involves gifts, consider giving yourself an early gift with a programmable thermostat. These little devices have become super popular because they improve your home’s heating and cooling efficiency by an easy 10% right off the bat. Even more with a little extra effort. They’re reasonably affordable, and installation is plug-and-play on most systems, so setup is a breeze. Already have one? Check out our list of 9 Energy-Saving Products for other gift ideas to treat yourself with.
Last Step — Review Your Electricity Plan
Preparing your home for winter is a super smart strategy to protect your home and make sure that it’s energy efficient. While the steps we talked about can help optimize your home’s energy efficiency, you should make sure that you’re paying a fair, fixed rate for your electricity to begin with.
Changing to 100% renewable solar, wind, and carbon-neutral natural gas-generated electricity from Energy Texas might save you money and suit your energy lifestyle. Go grab your most recent electricity bill. Then enter your zip code below and see our available rates in your area.