modern house in the snow

Prepare Your Home for Winter in Summer!

Winter may seem like a long way off but it’s never too early to start thinking about preparing your house so it is all set for the Winter season when it arrives. Here are some handy tips so that your home is winter ready in plenty of time.

winter house indoorsMake a Winter Indoor Checklist

There are many things you can do inside your home to make it a warmer place over the Winter season. Even if you like the snowy weather, cold drafts can result in heat loss which can cost you in excess of $500. Complete the Indoor checklist for around your home to keep warm and draft free through those cold winter days.

Indoor Checklist:

1. Check around your home to detect any areas where heat may be lost. For example, find and fix air leaks around windows, under doors, foundation, electrical outlets, exhaust fans, and attic openings. Reseal any and all questionable weather stripping.

2. Inspect the insulation in your attic and basement to be sure you have a proper amount. Patch up any areas that are sparse or show holes. Contact an Insulation company to complete a full home inspection for proper and efficient insulation and patch up any places that require more for the winter months.

3. Wrap your hot water heater in an insulating jacket. The harder it has to work to keep your water warm, the more it costs you to keep.

4. Maintain and clean your furnace and filters regularly.

5. Hire a professional to seal and insulate leaky ducts, and to ensure that the airflow distribution system serving your heating equipment is operating at peak efficiency.

6. Consider sealing windows with a plastic sheeting to reduce heat loss. If your windows are older or in poor condition, consider replacing them with new, energy-efficient windows. Install drapes on windows. However, keep drapes open during sunny winter days.

7. Adjust the thermostat setting by five degrees and compensate for comfort with clothing. Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically lower temperatures at night and when you’ll be out of the house for an extended period of time.

8. Close your foundation vents in the winter if there’s a crawl space under your home.

9. Close the vents and doors to rooms that you don’t use. Also, keep closet doors closed.

10. Install ceiling fans, the air circulation promotes heating efficiency in the winter. Switch fans to rotate in reverse to circulate the warmer air.

11. Turn off lights when not in use, and where possible, replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones, they last about 10 times longer and use about 10 times less hydro.

12. Deactivate the AC. Shut off your air conditioning system or remove the wall unit. If it cannot be removed, wrap it with a tarp or other sturdy cover.

13. Test the heater before winter. It’s been a good 8 months or more probably since you’ve used your heater, so it’s a great idea to give it a test run before the cold weather arrives.

14. Create a ‘wet’ area: remember how mucky and wet the front door area can become from boots and stuck-on snow. Purchase a rubberized mat to place wet footwear on and a mat or rug to absorb additional snow. If you’re thinking of renovating, consider a tile floor near entrance ways to make wet cleanups a breeze. With hardwood flooring, the water will absorb and will warp wood planks or ruin the finish on your floor.

Make a Winter Outdoor Checklist

A little maintenance results in a lot of prevention. It’s never fun to get caught in the dead of winter with a broken furnace, roof-leaks, cold drafts, icy walkways, or any other nuisance to hinder a warm hibernation. Prepare your Home for Winter with the final checklist of ‘To Do’ items to prevent any emergencies from happening.

Outdoor Checklist:

1. Prune shrubs that may block airflow to your heat pump.

2. Clean out the gutters around your house from mud and fallen leaves.

3. If you have a chimney have it cleaned out and checked for blockage. This is crucial for both heating and Indoor Air Quality.

4. Get out all the winter maintenance materials so they are at hand when needed. Including a bucket of sand for walkways, the snow blower, and shovels. Check and start up your snowblower. Ensure it is full of gasoline to ensure proper air/gas mixture.

5. Wrap up hedges and small bushes in burlap and twine to prevent the limbs from breaking from heavy snowfalls that collect and ice over.

6. Pick up loose gravel and rocks. There’s nothing worse than snow blowing your driveway and a rock jams in the blade, breaks it or goes flying through your dining room window. Prevent damages like this from happening before it begins to snow.

7. Rake up all fallen leaves. Your lawn still needs sunlight in the fall to prepare the grass root system for hibernation and good growth in the spring.

8. Use yard waste to your advantage. Shred up the leaves you’ve collected from your yard and mix them in with the soil in your garden. Leaves decay quickly and will create a great fertilizer and warmth for your garden through the winter.

9. Hill soil up around exposed bulbs or roots to protect from frost and to offer subtle warmth from snow and ice.

10. Save your evergreens over winter. It’s important to continue watering your evergreens until just before the ground freezes. Over winter, evergreens and other carnivorous trees do not shed their “leaves” and continue to transpire (give off water vapor). By watering your evergreens late in the fall, they create a reserve of moisture. If you notice damaged evergreens in the Spring Time, this is most commonly from dehydration throughout the winter and the drying effects from the winter sun and cold winds.

fireplaceChoose The Right Type of Fireplace

Fireplaces by Fuel Type

If you live in an area where the winter season hits you hard, you will need to make sure you invest in a good quality fireplace. But which type to go for? One of the easiest ways to categorize fireplaces is by the type of fuel that the fireplace will burn. The type of fuel that a fireplace burns will impact the experience and ambience that the owner will have.

Gas: These fireplaces burn natural gas that is pulled into the fireplace from a gas line. They are easy to clean and use.

Electric: Electric fireplaces use electricity to create the fire and produce heat.

Wood/Natural: This has been the most common type of fireplace over the history of homes. Innovation has now created several man-made or synthetic logs. These logs are engineered to burn longer, cleaner, and sometimes with unique burning smells!

Pellet: Some fireplaces are designed to actually burn a solid fuel but are set up to use a fuel other than wood.

Fireplaces by Circulation

A 2nd way to classify fireplaces is by the way that the fireplace circulates air. Generally, there are two major categories for this distinction:

Vent Free: These fireplaces do not have a direct venting feature and do not require the opening of the chimney to vent the fire. Often the air is circulated through another area and these can be quite fuel efficient.

Direct Vent: This vents the air in the fireplace out of the chimney.

Fireplaces by Location

A 3rd way that people categorize fireplaces is by their designated use and the area where they will be used in. There are generally two categories of fireplaces as designated by their use area:

Indoor: Designed to be set up inside a house.

Outdoor: Materials are suitable for outdoors.

Custom Fireplaces by Design

Another way to categorize fireplaces is based on their decorative effect. In this classification scheme, fireplaces are sorted by how they are used for decorating. Some examples include:

  • Stone Fireplaces
  • Metal Fireplaces
  • Glass Enclosed
  • Two Way Fireplaces

There are many different ways for describing these fireplaces. There are also many different styles of fireplaces that can be used.

A Bit More About Electric Fireplaces

Do not be fooled by the name, electric fireplaces are attractive and provide a beautiful glowing bed of realistic embers and lifelike wood. Current styles are designed with rich wood tones, stone, marble, brick or even stainless steel. While some electric fireplaces are designed for appearance only, others are constructed with heaters that can put out as much as 10,000 BTUs.  Best of all, since they are heated with electricity, you do not need to worry about fumes.

If you love the warmth and effect of a fireplace but live in an apartment, a home without a chimney or gas line, or just want a 2nd fireplace in a unique location, consider an electric fireplace.

Most electric fireplaces can simply be plugged in and are ready for operation. All of these types of fireplaces are tested in order to meet specific standards and to avoid problems with overheating, they are specially designed with automatic shut off features. In addition to the convenience, ease of operation, and overall effect, electric fireplaces are extremely inexpensive. Typically, they cost .02 per hour if using only the flames and .08 per hour when the heating elements are in use. The electric fireplace comes with a thermostat that you can set, which also helps save on operating cost.

Another great feature of the electric fireplace is that they look exactly like a normal, woodburning fireplace. The evolution is amazing where the logs mimic the look of real flames. This type of fireplace is ideal for a bedroom, family room, or office and creates a warm, inviting feel to the room. Depending on where you purchase the logs, you can find some that offer random flames, creating an amazing illusion of real fire. If you have small children, there is an added bonus. Unlike other fireplaces, the electric fireplace is always cool to the touch. Therefore, if your child should be curious and reach out to touch the logs or exterior of the fireplace, they will not be burned.

If you are considering a move and the benefit of a fireplace is at the top of your list or you want to add a functioning fireplace to your existing home without the overwhelming cost, entertain the idea of the addition of an electric fireplace. You will enjoy the warm, gentle heat and beautiful appearance along with complete convenience.

About the Author Joyce

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