PreparingHomeforWinterAs the temperatures start to drop and the days get shorter, it’s time to start preparing your home and yard for winter. It’s important you are prepared for the winter months to save energy, protect your property, and to keep your family safe. Try some of these useful tips to prepare your home for the colder months. Wash Windows It’s not the most pleasant task, but washing the windows inside and out during the fall will not only reward you with sparkling views, but it’s also a great opportunity to check for any damaged caulking or cracks. As you won’t want to do this during the winter months for fear of the water freezing on the windows, this is the ideal time to do it until spring. You can use a commercial window cleaner or even make your own. All you have to do to create your own is mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water. You’ll also want to use newspaper instead of paper towels or a rag to get the best clean. Seal Windows While we’re talking about windows, be sure to make your windows airtight. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10% of air that leaks from houses comes through windows. Be sure to caulk and add weather-stripping around the window frames. This will keep more air inside, helping you to save on energy costs. Magnetic types of weather-stripping are durable and effective if you have double-hung windows. For sliding windows, try self-adhesive V-strip weather-stripping, all of which are available at your local hardware store. Clean Gutters During the spring and summer, your gutters likely accumulated dirt and other residue, while fall probably filled them with leaves. Before heavy rain and snow arrives, be sure to have your gutters cleaned. Ladder safety is an important factor to consider, so make sure you follow the do’s and donts of ladder safety. Scoop out any debris in the gutter and then flush the gutters with a strong stream of water from the hose. Also check to make sure the gutters fit tight against the house and repair and problems, like cracks or loose screws in the downspouts. Weatherproof the Pool If you have a swimming pool in the yard, you’ll need to prepare it for the coming winter season. You don’t want it to freeze, causing a burst pipe, or have anyone get hurt or drown, so take the following precautions. • Drain the pool or install a circulation pump that keeps it at a temperature that won’t cause the water to freeze. • Put away all your pool furniture or cover it up with winterized tarps or other covers. • Install a pool alarm. Check Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Most experts recommend changing the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year. When the seasons change, it’s a good time to check the batteries. There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and in each bedroom. You should place carbon monoxide detectors in similar locations. Remember, don’t put carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of gas appliances, near a fireplace, or near the furnace. Small, non-harmful amounts of carbon monoxide come from these fixtures and could trigger false alarms. Get the Furnace Inspected Before you turn your furnace on for the season, call an HVAC company to give your furnace an inspection. Have them check the fan belt, vacuum out dust and debris, and oil the bearings. You’ll also want to buy enough filters to last through the winter months. It’s recommended to change filters monthly, as filters become clogged with dust and the furnace won’t operate efficiently. It’s worth the expense, as dirty filters can cause your energy bill to rise. Protect Pipes Pipes that freeze and break can be expensive and detrimental. To minimize the risk of frozen pipes, wrap each pipe in foam insulation. Hardware stores carry foam tubes that have a slit on one side. Cut the foam to the length you need, pull it open, and put the tube on the pipe. If the foam doesn’t have self-adhesive, use duct tape to secure the foam. Is your home ready for the winter season? Start now so you’ll be ready for the colder months. Preparing your home and yard will give you the peace of mind you need to get through the winter safely. Personal and Vehicle