If you haven’t heard by now, the winter forecasted for Canada this year and going into 2017 is going to be a rough one according to the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac. We were fortunate enough to have a warmer winter than usual last winter, but we won’t be able to escape the cold this year. With the expectation of freezing temperatures to hit us until the spring season, everyone’s going to have to bundle up this season!
In addition to piling on the clothes and blankets at work and home, there are a number of things you can do to prepare you and your home for the winter this year.
1. Draft Proof Your Windows and Doors
An incredible amount of energy can be loss through small leaks and gaps on your windows and doors. Not only are you losing heat in your home, but your utilities bill may skyrocket from needing to turn up the thermostate to compensate for the drafts. Simple tasks like caulking your windows with temporary or permanent caulking can have a drastic effect on how cold a particular area of your home feels. For more quick and easy tips to draft proof your home, check out one of our previously written blogs: Cheap & Easy Tips to Draft Proof Your Windows and Doors.
As always, we caution our clients that while we can provide simple solutions for protecting your existing windows and doors in the winter, older windows, especially deteriorating wood frame windows should be evaluated for window replacement. We understand it can be substantial investment, but it may be one of the best investments in terms of conserving energy, lowering your utilities bill and improving the overall enjoyment of your home in extreme winter and summer temperatures.
2. Clean out the Gutters
Clearing out the leaves, dirt, twigs from the gutters will help alleviate any blockage and drainage issues from the sleet and snow over the season. You should also verify there are no existing leaks and clogs in the downpipes by running a hose through it. If you want to save some money and clear out the gutter yourselves, some basic tools you’ll need are a ladder, waterproof gloves, a garden claw and a hose. An extra set of hands to help steady the ladder and check for any leakages would also be ideal.
3. Cover Up the Pipes
If you have exposed pipes on the outside of your home, be sure to shut off any unused water valves such as the hose line and cover any exterior pipes with insulation sleeves, which can be purchased from any hardware store. You may also want to seal the joints and bends with some duct tape. By covering up your pipes, you can save yourself the huge headache of dealing with pipe bursts, no water in the middle of winter, mold and/or mildew growth in the home and any costly ceiling or floor restoration work.
4. Stock Up for An Emergency
Remember the power outage we had a few winters back that left many people without heat and light for the holidays? With the extreme cold expected to hit us this season, you want to be prepared with an emergency kit. Basic items you should include are: a first aid kit, warm blankets and clothing, batteries, battery-powered radio, flashlights, candles, lighters and/or matches, medications, non-perishable item food items and a water supply of 2L for each adult per day. It is also recommended to have at least a three day supply worth of items.
5. Furnace and Duct Maintenance
With temperatures fluctuating from spring-like weather one day and a snow storm the next day, you want to be sure your furnace and thermostat are functioning as they should be before the frigid temperatures hit. Ensure any required maintenance is done on your furnace prior to the temperatures dropping by testing it yourself or hire a professional inspect it. Ducts should be cleaned out every three to five years, so you may wish to have that cleaned out before the excess heat flows through the ducts and vents.
As always, double check your fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning efficiently and ensure you have the appropriate battery replacements for them. They will be important in cases where your heating systems may be overworked.
So those are some of the basic winterization tips we share with our clients, do you already practise some of these tips in your home? We know many of these tasks are often overlooked with the busy holiday season and extra hours of work put in, but they are all simple tasks to keep your family safe and warm throughout the winter season, while also preventing you from spending extra money on additional utilities incurred or avoidable home repairs.
Do you have more home tips to share for the winter? Leave us a comment below!