Cold weather and snow can damage not only the structure of your home but also wreak havoc on your utility bills. In order to avoid high energy costs and expensive repairs, homeowners should take steps to winterize their homes each year. Whether you are new to Vermont and New Hampshire, or a first time homeowner, you may wonder what is needed to winterize your home. At Union Bank, our team recommends creating a yearly Winterizing Your Home Checklist. The following tips will help you make a winterizing checklist that covers your house from the roof to the basement.
When Should You Winterize Your Home?
Starting in early fall, begin checking tasks off your winterizing checklist to prepare for the cold days ahead. From how to winterize water pipes in your home to creating a winter storm emergency kit, here are the top tips for winterizing your home in Vermont and Northwestern New Hampshire.
Essential Tips for Winterizing Your Home
Find and Seal Air Leaks
Cold air can creep into your home through gaps around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. Drafts also allow heat to escape, increasing the strain on your heater and adding to your energy costs. Inspect your home for drafts and use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any gaps. You can detect drafts easily by walking around with a lit candle. As you pass the candle near the edges of windows and doors, watch for any flicker from the flame. If the flame is flickering or goes out, seal the draft with caulk or replace the weatherstripping.
Prepare Your Pipes
Frozen pipes that burst in winter can lead to serious water damage and costly repairs. Luckily, preparing your pipes is a cheap way to winterize your home. If you’re wondering how to winterize water pipes in your home, start outside. Outdoor plumbing is particularly susceptible to freezing weather so be sure to disconnect all garden hoses and store them until spring. Cover outdoor faucets to help insulate them from the cold, and blow out your sprinkler system to clear any residual water that could freeze. Do you know where your main water shutoff is located? Quickly reaching your whole-house shutoff in an emergency can save you from extensive damage.
Tune Up Your Heating System
It’s a good idea to service your heating system each year before the cold weather hits, ideally in late summer or early fall. Hire a professional to inspect your system and identify any issues that could cause your heating to fail this winter. Don’t forget to replace your filters to keep your system running efficiently year round, and consider installing a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature while you are away or sleeping.
Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance
If your home has a chimney attached to a fireplace or wood stove, you need to have it inspected and cleaned each year. Chimney buildup can cause fires and smoke damage when you start using it this winter. Chimney sweeps will check for any buildup or natural clogs like bird nests and ensure that your heating device is ready to use. If you have a chimney that you are no longer using, inflate a chimney balloon to block the airflow and keep out the cold this season.
Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Cleaning your gutters is one of the last steps in winterizing your home since you need to wait until the last leaves have fallen. When the beauty of fall fades, you’ll find the remnants clogging your gutters and downspouts. Leaves and debris can impede water flow and cause melting snow to back up and seep into your home. Your gutters play an important role in protecting your home from snow and ice damage by directing water away from your roof and foundation. If you are not comfortable cleaning your gutters alone, hire someone who can ensure your gutter system is clear and ready for the first snow of winter.
Inspect Your Roof and Attic
It’s easy to go about your everyday activities without giving much thought to your roof and attic. When winter arrives, the top portion of your home serves as the first-line of defense against snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Inspect your roof for any missing shingles or damage that could allow water to enter the home. Patch up insulation in your attic to help retain heat and prevent drafts. Leaks in the roof and attic often go unnoticed until the damage has spread. Avoid any trouble this winter by thoroughly examining your roof and attic before cold weather hits.
Invest in Energy Efficient Updates
Older model windows, doors, and insulation are no match for Vermont and New Hampshire’s cold winter weather. Luckily both states offer energy efficient rebate programs to help offset the cost of many household updates such as buying a smart thermostat or switching to an electric heat pump. Explore the extensive opportunities that these rebate programs provide through the following websites:
Cut Back Branches
Ice and snow can weigh down tree branches causing them to break and fall throughout winter. If your trees have grown to overhang your home or driveway, this could spell trouble for your roof, windows, and vehicles. Strong winter winds can also whip branches against your house, damaging your siding. Take a walk around your property and identify any trees that pose a threat this winter. If you can’t remove the branches yourself, schedule a professional to trim hazardous branches before winter.
Store and Inspect Seasonal Tools
As the seasons change so does your need for certain lawn and garden tools. When the warm weather winds down, clean and store your lawn mower, trimmer, and other yard tools until spring. Next, organize and inspect your winter tools to ensure they are in good shape and have enough oil or gas to function properly. Snow blowers and shovels should be easily accessible and ready to use before winter hits.
Stock Up on Winter Essentials
While you are inspecting your winter tools, check the shed or garage for salt, sand, and other deicing agents. Stock up now if you think you will need to buy more this winter. Power outages are not uncommon during windy and icy weather. Organize a supply of extra batteries and flashlights and consider purchasing a generator to help you navigate winter power loss.
Create a Winter Emergency Kit
If an ice storm takes down your power lines this winter, will you have enough food, water, and warmth to survive a few days without electricity? A good winter emergency kit will contain non-perishable food, drinking water, essential medications, blankets, fire starting supplies, and other emergency storm survival essentials. Refer to these tips from the National Weather Service for more ideas on what to prepare in case of a severe winter storm.
From Preparation to Peace of Mind
At Union Bank, our team lives and works in your communities and can help provide tips for winterizing your home in Fairfax, Hardwick, Jeffersonville, Jericho, Lyndonville, Morrisville, St. Johnsbury, Stowe, Williston, or Littleton. We know firsthand that winterizing your home takes planning, time, and money.
If winterization projects are adding up this year, consider a home equity loan to cover the repairs you need to protect your house from snow and ice. Call or stop by your local Vermont or New Hampshire branch to see if a home equity loan from Union Bank can work for you. Protecting your home from winter damage will save you money on seasonal energy costs and increase the overall value of your home. Don’t let winter catch you off guard this year — make your home winterizing checklist today!