People can’t survive without homes and homes can’t survive without people. This symbiotic relationship is rather beautiful—give your house some love and it will provide protection, warmth, and safety in return. But, where to start?
Your winter house tasks depend on where you live and the state of your home. Use our Winter House Maintenance Checklist to get started on your chore list, or read on to get a better idea of how to prepare your home for winter.
What should I do to prepare my home for cold weather?
- Prepare the outdoors. From trimming trees to cleaning gutters to storing outdoor furniture and equipment.
- Air sealing. Weatherize windows to block cold air. Seal drafts in and around doors.
(Be sure to do indoor air quality testing – if you are air sealing, you have to ventilate.)
- Check your plumbing for drips, leaks, and proper insulation.
- Check your chimney and get it cleaned if you plan on using it through the winter.
- Do an energy efficiency audit. Ensure filters are clean and appliances are running well.
(Use our free energy guide as a starting point.)
How Much Should I Invest in My Home for Improvements before Winter?
A stitch in time saves nine. True for sewing and true for winter house maintenance. Mother Nature comes at your home like it’s her job to destroy it, and it’s with your care that it doesn’t deteriorate. This year, we have safety and health to add to our list of concerns.
How much you invest in your home depends on:
- Your budget
- The age of your home
- The climate near your home
- The added value of the improvements
The good news is that many winter house maintenance projects that improve your comfort and health also improve home value. For example, adding insulation has an 83% return on investment upon resale (average cost of $2,400 with recovered cost at $2,000). Similarly, HVAC installation has an 85% return on investment (average cost $8,200 with recovered cost $7,000). See a complete list of what home projects add the most value.
Generally, if your home is older, has some wear and tear, and you live in a harsher climate, then you need to invest more to get it into good shape going into winter. Not only will you be more comfortable through the season, but you will save more in maintenance and energy costs long term. As an added bonus, you will add value to your home.
Some winter house maintenance projects need to be completed before cold weather starts. Others can be done inside, no matter the temperature. Use this timeline to prioritize your home maintenance schedule.
Begin outdoors with yard maintenance & storage:
- Prune & pull plants near house, put garden to bed, remove leaves
- Clean gutters, winterize irrigation
- Store outdoor furniture, garden containers & tools, paint & caulk that can freeze
Move inside to the perimeter of your home:
- Air sealing: weatherize windows and doors (window inserts stop cold drafts). Start with the draftiest rooms first.
- Check systems: heating, water, ventilation
- Check fireplace and get annual cleaning
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Once winter officially arrives and temperatures drop, make sure you aren’t wasting energy:
- Unplug devices when not in use or use a smart plug
- Switch to LED or CFL light bulbs
- Test and upgrade underperforming appliances
After the holidays, and still very much in the dead of winter, find new ways to save money on heating while making your home comfortable:
- Weatherize your windows with window inserts in more rooms, increasing your energy efficiency by lowering the thermostat
- Consider upgrading to an HVAC for better air sealing and air quality in your home
- Repair or add insulation
The more winter house maintenance you do now, the less you need to worry about next year. And the more routine it will become! Print out our winter maintenance guide to keep your home health and safety top of mind. Then keep it on file for next year and set a calendar reminder so you’re prepared for whatever the season brings.