Thursday, October 5, 2017

It Is That Time Again!  20 Things You Need to do to Get Ready For Winter!

 It is time to get an early start on winterizing your home.  These 20 suggestions will save you money and make sure you are ready for the coldest months of the year.

1.  Check for air leaks around windows.  On a windy day, move your damp hand around the edges of your windows.  Any drafts will feel cool on your hand.  If you detect any air leaks, you should seal the window.  You can purchase a window insulation kit that will cover 5 windows for around thirty dollars.

2.  You should also use your damp hand to detect drafts under doors.  If you have an air leak, a draft stopper is the quickest solution.  You can purchase one for anywhere from ten dollars and up, or, you can easily make your own draft stopper.  Use anything from around the house that can be made into a tube.  A towel or a leg from an old pair of jeans are great choices.  Sew the item into a tube and fill it with rice or kitty litter, both will provide good insulation.  If there are drafts around the doors, you can buy weather stripping for about four dollars per seventeen feet.  Note!  Be sure to check your patio doors too!

3.  Have your furnace serviced and change the filters. If your furnace is not working efficiently, it can increase your heating bill by as much as 38%.  A service call will cost between ninety and one hundred and twenty dollars.

4.  Set your ceiling fans to turn clockwise.  The fan will push the hot air back down into the room.  If your ceilings are higher than eight feet, you may want to consider adding ceiling fans at a cost of about seventy five dollars each. 

5.  After using your oven, leave the door open while the oven cools.  The residual heat will go into your kitchen.  Only do this if there are no small children in the area.

6.  Put caulking around your pipes under the sink where they go into the wall.  Caulking guns cost around twelve dollars.  You can use painter's caulking tubes that adhere to wood, plaster, drywall and masonry.  One tube of caulking goes for around three dollars.  Note!  This also acts as an excellent fire stop!

7.  Invest in a programmable thermostat.  You can buy one for fifty dollars and it will quickly pay for itself.  Program it to lower the temperature during the hours when no one is home and when everyone is sleeping.

8.  Insulating any visible pipes can save you 6% to 10% on your energy bill.  Use pre-slit pipe foam at a cost of six dollars per three feet.  Cut the pipe to size and fasten it with duct tape, available for four dollars or less a roll.

9.  Check the insulation in your attic.  It should be at least 12 inches thick and no floor joists should be visible.  If you need to add insulation, you can expect to pay about ten dollars per bag.  Note!  In the winter, if the snow melts off your roof, you are losing heat through your attic.  Keep adding insulation until the snow stays.

10.  Have your chimney cleaned.  Build up on the inside of your chimney is a fire hazard.  Also, make sure there is a cap on your chimney, available for sixty dollars, to prevent debris, birds and squirrels from entering.  The average cost of a cleaning is one hundred and sixty dollars, but costs vary widely by area.  Note!  Keep your chimney draft closed when not in use so heat does not escape.

11.  Install light curtains, or leave uncovered, south facing windows in order to take full advantage of the sunlight hours.
12.  Some shrubs and trees need to be protected with burlap.  If there is a farmer nearby, you can ask if they have any empty feed sacks you can have.  Feed sacks are often made of burlap.  Also, if you are near a seafood restaurant, oysters are shipped in burlap bags that they would probably give you for free.

13.  Do not clean out the expired flowers from the beds.  If left alone for the fall and winter, many of them will re-seed including some annuals.  This will lower your flower purchasing budget for the spring.

14.  Insure your outside faucet is drained of water and that it is angled downward.  If water is left in the pipe to freeze, the pipe will expand and burst.  Also, drain your garden hose.

15.  Remove any debris from the gutters in your eaves trough.  The debris adds weight to the ice and can cause the gutters to crack.

16.  Drain the gas from your mower or let it run until it is empty.  Do the same with any other of your gas powered outdoor tools.  It is not safe to store gasoline in a shed or garage.

17.  Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of your shed for easy access.

18.  Now is the time to test the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  It is also a good time to review the fire escape plan with your family.  If you have a monitored alarm system, you can perform a full system test to make sure all of the door contacts, panic buttons, etc. are relaying properly back to the monitoring station. 

19.  Put together a winter survival kit to use in the case of a storm or power outage.  Be prepared to leave your home in the case of any emergency and take your winter survival kit with you.  Items to include are: flashlights and battery powered lanterns with extra batteries (put the batteries in the flashlight and lantern in backwards to guard against them being turned on accidently), transistor radio, candles, matches, fire extinguisher, general household tools (hammer, multi=head screwdriver, multi-tool), non-perishable foods such as canned goods, snacks, peanut butter, juice boxes, five litres of water per person, can opener, paper plates, plastic cutlery (in a power outage you cannot do dishes and you do not want rotting food on plates sitting around), garbage bags, plastic bags (for sanitation purposes, if needed), four day supply of prescription medications, first aid kit, feminine items, cash (bank machines and debit machines will not work in a power outage), copies of important identification for all family members, four day supply of pet food per pet, disposable kitty litter box (if you have a cat), toothbrushes and toothpaste, change of clothing for each family member and a disposable charged cell phone (you will have to check it occasionally to see if it needs to be charged).  Keep these items in duffel bags where you will have easy access to them in an emergency. 

20.  Assemble a winter storm kit for each vehicle in your home.  Items to include are: Flashlight and extra batteries (put the batteries in the flashlight backwards to guard against it being turned on accidently), transistor radio, blankets, first aid kit, bag of kitty litter (for traction), collapsible shovel, windshield scraper and brush, booster cables, emergency flares, help sign, bottled water, a supply of non-perishable food items, box of tissues, plastic bags, hand warmers, extra hats, mittens, and scarves, pair of winter boots, a small amount of cash, extra prescription medications, a back pack that will fit essential items in case you have to leave your vehicle and walk for help and some reading material, in case you are stuck for a long period of time.  Note!  In the winter months, never allow your vehicle to go below half a tank of gas.  If you are stranded, you will be thankful to have ample fuel!

If you can execute all of these suggestions, you will be well equipped to face the oncoming winter.  Even if you only complete some of the recommendations, you will be able to save on your energy bill and who doesn't like to save money?!

Pauline Milner

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