As the temperatures begin cooling off and summer fades off into fall, individuals should start thinking about how to prepare their homes for the upcoming winter. By “winterizing” a home, individuals ensure that it’s in the best shape to handle the winter, no matter how bad it might be. This can save money on repairs and increased heating costs as well.

Checking the Furnace

One of the most important things individuals can do before winter is checking their furnace to ensure that it’s working properly. A HVAC professional can ensure that the furnace is working properly, that the ducts are clean, the filters are clean, and that everything is up to date. This will not only ensure that the furnace is ready to keep the family warm on frigid nights, but will help save money in energy costs as well. If a furnace is working improperly, it is not uncommon for it to use a lot of extra energy.

Cleaning the Gutters

Cleaning the gutters might seem like a spring job, but it’s important to make sure all leaves and debris are out of the gutters before winter. This ensures that water and ice will be held away from the house. When the gutters are clogged, it’s easy for water to freeze with the muck and debris, and can cause water to eventually leak into the house. There are professional gutter-cleaning tools one can use to help get everything out and make sure the gutters are clean and uncluttered.

Get Rid of the Drafts

It’s important to go through the entire house, checking for drafts and cracks where air can get in. This includes checking around the windows and doors, and checking the basement for any drafts as well. Door drafts can be fixed with “draft snakes,” which are inexpensive and easy to make. Cracks in windows should be caulked or covered in some way, and any holes should be filled and closed off. This can prevent anywhere from 5% to 30% of energy loss during the winter.

Boosting the Insulation

For homes that aren’t well insulated, a huge amount of energy can be lost during the winter. Individuals can hire professionals to add insulation in the attic, basement and other areas of the home that are lacking. This insulation helps hold in the heat during the winter, so the family stays comfortable while using less energy. Just boosting the home’s insulation shouldn’t cost too much and in some states, tax credits are available for families who add more insulation to their homes.

Managing Water

Families can save energy by turning down their hot water heater. Many are set on a default 140-degrees, and for most families, 120-degrees is plenty hot enough. This can save a great deal in energy costs. Another great way to save is to insulate the hot water pipes. Pre-slit pipe insulation is available at hardware stores, and will help you have hotter water for a longer period of time because it reduces the amount of heat that’s lost through the pipes. Insulating both hot and cold pipes will decrease risk of them freezing and rupturing as well.

Winterizing a home not only helps individuals stay more comfortable during the winter, but it can save a great deal of money throughout the cold season.