Get your house ready for winter: 10 things to do now

It’s hard to believe that the winter season is close upon us. But alas, within a few short weeks it will be here. Cooler months bring a unique set of challenges for homeowners, in particular: keeping it warm and keeping it safe from the elements.

A good many people (us included) get overwhelmed just thinking about what to do to prepare their home for winter. On the surface it can seem like a daunting task. But the minute you take a step towards the goal, you quickly realize your perception of the job was much worse than the reality.

Here are ten simple things you can do to get your house buttoned up for winter. We recommend picking one or two related to keeping your house (tips 1-5) warm and checking off all the tasks related to keeping it safe (tips 6-10).

1. Invest in a draft snake. According to the US Department of Energy, drafts can sap anywhere from 5% to 30% of your energy use. A draft snake or a rolled up towel under the door can keep the cold air out, and the heat sealed in. There are lots of cute empty cases available on Etsy these days, like this bright and cheery striped one for $18. Fill a case with orphaned socks and old t-shirts, or rice and beans.

2. Swap out summer drapes. Your windows can also be a culprit when it comes to energy-sapping cold air sneaking its way into your house. Solve this problem by putting up heavier drapes place of your breezy summer curtains, and using weather stripping on the bottom of the windows. Focus on the handful of windows that are causing the bulk of your problem. {image via: Houzz}

3. Test your furnace before your need it. You don’t want to be stuck on the first cold night of the season with a malfunctioning furnace and no available appointment times. This week give your system a workout. While you’re at it, swap out old filters. It takes two minutes but makes a difference in air quality as well as the efficiency of your system.

4. Swap out your summer screens for glass and/or storm windows. This chore typically elicits a lot of groans. It is one of those jobs that sounds like a much bigger headache than it actually is. If you’ve been procrastinating on this front, break the task down into smaller ones. Swap out two per day over the next week. If you’re lucky enough to have helping hands, line the family up this weekend and turn the process into a contest. The person who changes the most screens in 20 minutes wins something (an ice cream treat, control of the remote for the week, get out of chores for the next week, etc.).

5. Tweak ceiling fans. Reverse the switch on your ceiling fan so it blows upward, towards the ceiling. Doing so will move the hot air that has risen up back down and save you money on your heating bill. {Cool ceiling van via: G Squared Art}

6. Clean out your gutters. Autumn is sure to leave plenty of leaves to be removed, which can cause problems later on when winter arrives. Clogged drains can create ice dams, which can back up and leak into your house. Skip the gym and get a workout the old fashioned way this weekend. For a detailed how-to, check out this post on DIY Life.

7. Check your winter tools. Did you slog through last winter without an ice scraper in your car? Do you have a functioning snow shovel or snow blower? Now is the time to take a quick inventory of what you have and ensure it is in good working order. If you need anything, now is the time to head to the store to stock up.

8. Stock up on salt. You do not want to be caught empty-handed during the first snowstorm of the season. Head on over to your local hardware store or home superstore and stock up on a bag or two. {image via: Chicago Snow Salt}

9. Trim tree branches. While this is a good thing to do in general, this is especially true for those that might be hanging too close to the house or electrical wires. Remember, they are easily weighted down when covered in ice and snow. They might not be as safe as you think. Here’s a good tutorial on how to prune a tree.

10. Swap out batteries in alarms. We always recommend swapping out batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors the same day you set the clocks back. Make an appointment with yourself for November 6th to do just that.

Have you already got your house buttoned up for winter? Or are you putting off regular pre-winter maintenance? If the latter, what’s stopping you?