Imagine you’re sitting under the air conditioner in shorts and a T-shirt, lounging on the beach with a cold drink in your hand, watching the kids play in the pool or just soaking up some summer sun. The last thing you want to think about is snow up to your knees, right? You stuffed that winter jacket into the back of your closet for a reason.
No matter the season, you may not be ready to think about chilly weather — but for your house, it’s mission critical. Preparing home for winter is part of what keeps it feeling like home. While you may not need to pull out the warm clothes just yet, it’s never too early to get a head start on prepping your property for all the joys (and struggles) of winter.
Even if you’re the biggest winter fanatic in the world — because who doesn’t love cozy sweaters and hot cocoa in front of the fireplace? — your house probably isn’t. There are plenty of not-so-great things about cold weather, and some of them could be causing trouble right under your nose.
Here are a few reasons why you may want to worry about winter, for your home’s sake:
- New problems can appear suddenly.
Whether you live in a “snow up to your nose” climate or a “rain until May” climate, one thing’s for sure: a winter storm can cause new problems to arise out of nowhere. For example, snow piling up on your roof can cause leaks and other pricey problems, while heavy rain could flood your driveway and cause long-term damage — all before you’re ready to get out of your warm bed on a chilly day.
- Little problems become a whole lot bigger.
If your home has any small but chronic issues, like a cracking chimney or poorly sealed windows, winter is about to put them right in the spotlight. A problem that didn’t seem like such a big deal during warmer weather can be exacerbated by even one day of snow, rain or ice. Suddenly, that “no big deal” problem has a huge impact on your comfort or budget — and it’s all thanks to Jack Frost and his buddies.
- You may not catch issues in time.
Say something goes wrong with your home — like a cracked gutter — in the middle of winter. Between all those old autumn leaves (who has time to rake each one?) and the possibility of a whole lot of snow, you might not even notice that small crack until the spring. By then, you’ll have missed your window for budget-friendly repairs, and what could have been a quick, affordable fix is now a serious issue.
- You put more strain on your home’s infrastructure.
You ask a lot of your home during cold weather, and even more during a big winter storm. For example, you put strain on your furnace, thermostat, HVAC system, hot water heater, plumbing and more — all in the interest of staying warm and toasty. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean your house needs to be in tip-top shape before that first snow or heavy rain blows in.
The good news about winter is that it doesn’t have to be the bad guy. With these winterization tips, you’ll be a pro at preparing home for winter — even if you’re reading this in the middle of summer.
According to the Chicago Tribune, freezing temperature for pipes is 32F — the same as it is for just about everything else. That means most winter weather comes with trouble for your home’s plumbing. Here are a few tips to protect those pipes:
- Insulate. The areas where pipes travel — like basements or attics — are also the areas where insulation is at its weakest. You have a lot of options, including fiberglass, foam, mineral wool and more.
- Keep your house warm. Even if you’re a fan of that chill, be kind to your home and make sure to keep things toasty. Warm air keeps your pipes safer during a hard freeze.
- Vacation carefully. If you’re headed out on a winter getaway, turn off the water supply and drain the pipes before taking off. You can also pour antifreeze down drains for an extra level of protection.
According to Austin Water, you should start fortifying outdoor faucets when temperatures are expected to be 28°F or below for at least four hours. To do this, you can do what’s called “dripping.” Let your faucets drip constantly to keep them from freezing. To keep from wasting water, aim for five drops per minute. You can also find outdoor faucet covers to protect from freezing damage or create your own using foam or newspaper.
Once that chill sets in, you’ll probably be eager to grab the firewood — which means your chimney needs to be ready for action. Sweep and clean the fireplace, chimney and surrounding areas to limit the risk of a fire, and make sure the chimney is clear to minimize carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an important part of preparing your home — and yourself — for winter is taking good care of your heating system. Have the system serviced regularly, and don’t forget to clean or replace the air filter for your furnace at least every 90 days.
If you happen to be looking for a new home, you’re in a great position to set yourself up for a highly successful winter. You have the chance to choose a home that’s already prepared, fortified and free of any structural issues that would turn cold weather into a winter nightmare — and all you have to do is look for the Bungalo® Certification. You’ll rest easy knowing that no drafts or leaky pipes are going to turn your snow day into an “oh no” day.
Does all this cold weather talk have you reaching for the thermostat? If so, you may already be bracing for a high energy bill. However, there are a few ways to save on energy costs — even when the weather outside is frightful.
- Double-check your insulation.
Remember how insulation can protect your pipes from cold weather? Well, turns out it’s pretty good at doing the same for you. Double-check insulation throughout your home to keep the chill where it belongs — outside.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat gives you complete control over the temperature in your home. This device makes it simple and stress-free to decide where and how you’ll save on energy — and some of them even come with “smart” capabilities that give you advanced control, too.
- Don’t go straight to the furnace.
If you’re worried about electricity costs, that furnace might not be your best friend. Instead, try warming up the old-fashioned way: blankets, hot drinks and a cozy wood fire — as long as your chimney has recently been cleaned, of course. A wood fire also provides lighting (not to mention a dreamy ambiance), which means you can save on energy by turning off a few lights.
- Know when electricity rates are highest (and lowest).
Electricity rates depend on demand — so when it’s cold out and everyone is racing to turn up the heat, you know your bill will be higher. The same goes for summer, when everyone’s trying to cool down — so knowing electricity habits in your area can help you know when it’s best to find alternative solutions.
- Close the garage door.
A closed garage door keeps rain, snow and other winter conditions outside. That means warm air from your home will have fewer chances to escape — and water heaters or other garage appliances will be protected from the chill.
- Check for air leaks and drafts.
A drafty window or a wall with an air leak basically means you’re paying to heat the outside. Before cold weather really sets in, take some time to check for these issues, especially in areas you usually don’t pay much attention to — like attics or crawlspaces.
Whether you’re buying a new home or protecting your current one, there’s a certain defense you can’t live without: homeowners insurance.
Homeowners insurance is your way of making sure you’re financially protected if something happens to your property. However, not everything is covered, so it’s important to read the fine print when you’re signing up for a new policy.
Here are a few winter weather hazards often covered by homeowners insurance:
- Fire damage
- Some types of water damage
- Damage to outbuildings, including outdoor fireplaces
- Extreme weather damage
- Damage caused by falling trees
There are always exceptions — for example, if a pipe freezes and bursts due to lack of maintenance, homeowners insurance won’t cover the water damage. In general, you can count on homeowners insurance for extreme events, unexpected damage or anything you couldn’t have prepared for, while things the insurer considers “your fault” aren’t covered.
Also keep in mind that homeowners insurance is required for many mortgage and loan types — so be sure to do your research before buying or selling a home.
Winter weather got you down? It might be time to start looking for warmer weather — or at least a warmer home — by searching Bungalo listings. You’ll find certified properties with all the guarantees and warranties necessary to keep you cozy through the long winter — and all at a price that will keep your budget cozy, too.
Ready to find your paradise? Start searching Bungalo homes today.
This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.