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How to Winterize Your Home For the Upcoming Cold

A house in the winter

As winter approaches, it’s important to take some time to prepare your home for the colder weather. By doing so, you can help ensure that your home is running efficiently and that you stay warm and comfortable all season long. We spoke with experts in the home industry about how to get your home ready for the upcoming cold fronts.

Prepare Your Pipes

Kitchen pipes under a sink

One of the most important things you can do in preparation for winter is to make sure your pipes are properly insulated. If they’re not, they could easily freeze and burst during cold weather.

Michael Green, vice president of operations for Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, told LifeSavvy that early preparation is key when it comes to your pipes. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and set your faucets to drip to keep water flowing if the temperature is predicted to go below freezing. This will reduce the chance of your pipes freezing.

Don’t forget about your outdoor pipes either. Hose lines and swimming pool lines are more susceptible to freezes than indoor pipes, Green warned. Shut off the water supply to any outdoor pipes that you won’t need all winter and drain them before the season’s first freeze. Store hoses inside during the winter.

If you can’t shut off outdoor pipes, Green advises that you insulate them well before it gets cold. Pipe sleeves, heat tape, and heat cables are all good options that can keep your pipes from freezing during the winter.

URBEST Pipe Insulation Tubing

Keep your pipes from freezing this winter.

Help Your Heating System Run Efficiently

Someone adjusts a thermostat
Commercial RAF/Shutterstock.com

You’re going to rely heavily on your heating system in the coming months, so it’s important to make sure it’s ready for a long winter. The first thing that Mark Dawson, CEO of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, recommends doing is getting a professional check-up for your furnace.

“A thorough furnace tune-up includes several checks and adjustments that can make your furnace run more efficiently, and often makes it possible to catch and repair small problems before they can turn into expensive ordeals,” he explained.

Whether you have a furnace system or a few small heaters around your house, Dawson also recommends cleaning all vents and filters before the cold weather sets in. Dirty vents will cause your heating system to work harder to blow hot air around your home, resulting in a higher electrical bill.

Quickie Microfiber Dusting Mitt

Clean vent covers with this easy-to-use mitt.

As the cold weather gets closer, get used to keeping your thermostat at a steady temperature for maximum efficiency. Changing the temperature of your thermostat often will decrease its efficiency by forcing it to use more energy every time the temperature changes. Dawson also suggests lowering your thermostat by 10 or 15 degrees while you’re sleeping or when no one is home to save even more on your heating bills.

Amazon Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat can help you save money on heating bills.

Prevent Drafts

A woman stands inside and looks out the window
Saulich Elena/Shutterstock.com

Drafts can be a major source of heat loss in your home, costing you money and making it difficult to stay warm. David Flax, President of Window Genie, a Neighborly company, recommends using window film to insulate your windows before winter. Not only will this keep warm air inside and cold air outside during the winter, but it will also help your home stay cool in the summer.

Frost King V73/9H Indoor Shrink Window Kit

Insulate windows without blocking out light.

Flax also advises that all homeowners conduct a thorough inspection of their windows in the fall to address any leaks or potential drafts. He recommends checking the weather stripping around your windows (and replacing anything if needed) and making sure everything is caulked properly.

If your windows aren’t doing a very good job, adding another layer of glass (called a storm window) is a more affordable way to keep drafts out than replacing your windows completely. Heavy drapes can also be useful when it comes to winter insulation, Flax said.

Gorilla Waterproof Caulk & Seal

Fix any gaps or leaks near windows and doors.

Dillon Walker from Screenmobile System Support also advises that you remove the screens from your doors and windows before winter hits, especially if you get snow and ice in your area. This will help keep your screens in good condition and avoid damage that might be caused by the weather.

Clear Your Gutters

Someone cleans their gutter

Gutters are an important feature of any home. This simple fixture that runs along the edge of your roof helps divert water away from your house to avoid damage and flooding. But without proper maintenance, your gutters can cause major issues in the winter.

During the winter, clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which are ridges of ice that form when snow melts, runs down your roof, and refreezes near the edge. Although they look nice, they can cause significant damage to your roof by tearing out gutters and loosening shingles. Kevin Busch, VP of Operations for Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company, recommends that everyone living in a cold weather climate makes sure that their gutters are clean and working properly before the temperature dips below freezing.

To clean your gutters, use a ladder and a gutter cleaning tool to remove leaves and debris from all areas. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can hire a gutter cleaning company to help.

Gutter Sense Gutter Cleaning Tool

Stay off the ladder and use these instead!

Conduct a Deep Cleaning

A woman dusts a lampshade
LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

A deep cleaning may not seem like a winter preparation tip, but it can actually help you out a lot in the winter. When your home is clean, dust and dirt aren’t blocking heating vents and taking up space on surfaces where they could be insulating instead.

“This is also a great chance to make room for new holiday toys or gifts while clearing out junk before the winter blahs set in and big cleaning jobs are a little tougher,” added Kathy Cohoon, Operations Manager at Two Maids.

A few things to add to your fall cleaning to-do list include dusting and sweeping around your entire house, vacuuming all drapes, rugs, and carpets, and scrubbing away soap scum in sinks, showers, and tubs. Cohoon recommends using microfiber cloths as much as you can when cleaning, since they’re a superior cleaning tool and better for the environment than paper towels.

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Clean with these absorbant and reusable cloths.

Take advantage of any remaining warm-weather days to throw the windows open when dusting and using cleaning products. If it’s already too cold (or you want to clean with a more natural alternative), Cohoon suggests using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda as an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner.

Bonus: Prep Your Garden

A boy works in the garden
Evtushkova Olga/Shutterstock.com

If you have a garden, now is the time to start preparing it for winter. To avoid unneeded stress and extra work in the spring, there are a few steps you can take now to prepare your garden properly.

First, clean out your garden. Dead or rotting plants can be a hotspot for pests and diseases. Pull up any spent vegetation and burn it or throw it away. This will make sure bugs don’t pop up first thing in the spring. You should also thoroughly clean your garden of any debris or weeds so your plants have an ideal growing setting when the weather warms up again.

Next, you’ll want to add a layer of compost. Spread about four inches of compost over all garden soil before the first frost. This will protect the dirt and keep the soil enriched. It will also protect your plants from winter’s chill. Compost can be made of materials that will naturally break down such as grass, leaves, and straw. Food waste like coffee filters, eggshells, and vegetables are also appropriate.

EPICA Stainless Steel Compost Bin

Make your own compost at home.

If you’re planning on growing tulips, daffodils, or other flowers that grow from bulbs, you’ll need to plant them in the fall in order for them to grow properly in the spring. Finally, don’t forget to prune your perennials. Perrenials need to be planted every year because they can survive the winter if they are taken care of properly.

Allow these plants to grow until the first frost and then trim them until they are 4 to 6 inches tall. This will help protect them from the winter elements so they are ready to grow again in the spring.

50 Triumph Tulip Bulbs for Planting

Plant beautiful tulips to enjoy in the spring.

Preparing your home for winter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By taking care of a few key things, you can rest assured that your home will be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws its way. Get started now and enjoy a warm and comfortable winter season.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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