Outsmart Old Man Winter with Home Improvements

Oct 16, 2013 | Personal, Real Estate

Did you hear the dismal forecast? The vaunted Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a torturous mix of above-normal precipitation and below-normal temps this winter.
Is your home ready for the frigid onslaught?
It’s estimated 30 percent of your heat and, in turn, energy-related dollars go out the window and doors.
And that stat says nothing of the energy lost via overlooked spaces — fireplaces, garages, outlets and attics.
Some fixes are cheaper than a latte. Even more costly maintenance pales in comparison to the thousands of dollars you’ll spend on emergency fixes.
Give Old Man Winter the cold shoulder by doing the following.
Start outside.
Clean your gutters by removing leaves and other debris. Thoroughly rinse with a hose. Otherwise, ice blocks gutters, leading to water seepage and $$$$ home repairs.
Is your drainpipe pointing away from the house? If not, water can flow toward the foundation of your house — conditions rife for structural damage.
Do you know where your leaks are?
A few millimeters may not sound like a lot. But tiny drafts add up. Walk your house with a lit incense stick on a windy day to find leaks. Hold the stick up to the “usual suspects” for drafts (doors and windows). Don’t forget less obvious sources of cracks and gaps (near attic hatches, recessed lighting, vents and fans, electrical outlets). If the smoke from the stick blows around, you’ve got a draft.
Nail metal or rubber door sweeps to the bottom of drafty doors to close the gap between the floor and door.
Install storm windows. A cheaper option? Buy an insulation kit. Applied to the inside of the window, this film/sheeting keeps the cold air out.
Many homes are under-insulated. You may need to add more to areas like your attic, where experts contend a foot of insulation suffices.
Remove those window air conditioners or, if storage space is an issue, buy a cover to eliminate drafts.
Caulk or weather strip frames and baseboards.
Have a fireplace? Get it serviced. The flue should be closed when not in use.
Get into the maintenance habit.
There’s no better time to get your heating and water systems in order.
Change filters. Get a furnace tune-up. Clean your ducts and repair duct work with foil tape, not the more aptly-titled but less resilient duct tape.
Turn down the temp on your hot water tank as needed to save money, or purchase a programmable thermostat to save on expenses overnight while you sleep or if your home is empty during the workday.
Learn about energy efficient solutions and rebates on the government’s EnergyStar website.
With a little planning, you’ll keep more money in your pocket, while also defending your home from winter’s wrath.