winterizing your home

Winter is fast approaching, so it’s important to prepare your home for perilous weather soon to follow. Here are 8 cost-effective tips that every homeowner can use to save money and avoid disasters around the house.

1. Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters should be one of the first things you do this winter. That way winter’s rain and melting snow can drain. Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water will back up, sometimes leaking into the house or even freezing. Be sure that downspouts lead water away from the house as well. Water should be at least ten feet away from the house once it properly drains.

2. Add Insulation Yourself

This is a great way to save yourself a lot of money on heating your house. Buy some attic insulation at your local hardware store and install it yourself. You should add extra insulation to your residence regardless of the climate you live in because it will still benefit you. You need at least 12 inches of insulation too.

3. Check Your Air Ducts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of heated air before it even reaches the air vents if the duct work is not connected or well insulated. Be sure to examine your ducts and properly attach or patch with metal backed tape. Air ducts may also have dust and debris build up inside, so you should have them professionally cleaned once a year as well.

4. Reverse The Ceiling Fan

One of the simplest things to do this winter is to reverse the direction your fan rotates. This will push warm air down and force it to recirculate. Most fans will have an easy to locate switch on the motor. You will know it is working because the blades should turn counter clockwise.

5. Wrap Up Your Pipes

To prevent pipes bursting due to frozen water, you should insulate them. Pipes that run through crawl spaces, basements or garages are more at risk of bursting due to freezing. Wrap them in pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores.

6. Check Your Fire Alarms

Believe it or not, this is something you should do every winter! Homes are more subject to fires in the winter months because of the usage of fire places, candles and live Christmas trees. Test all alarms with a bit of smoke, not just by pressing the “test” button. Fire detectors should be replaced every ten years.

7. Trim Any Nearby Trees

Any branches over hanging your roof windows or driveway should be trimmed. Snow and ice will weigh them down causing them to break, fall and damage your property.

8. Prep A 72-hour Kit

You never know when you might be without power and heat for days at a time. Winter storms can knock out power lines so it is important to be prepared in case of emergency. Your 72 hour kit should have the essentials like food, water and blankets for warmth. Other things you may want to include are flashlights, candles, battery powered radio and first aid. You can make your own or buy pre-made kits at most outdoor stores.

For more information on 72-hour kits, visit www.ready.gov, to learn how to build your own kit.