Frozen pipes are a common problem in winter weather. To prevent pipes from freezing, drain and store outdoor hoses; insulate areas where there are water supply lines; let water drip from faucets served by vulnerable pipes; and always leave your heat on in the winter, even if you are away.
Power outages are common during winter storms. While there isn’t much you can do to prevent the power from going out, you can prepare by having a generator to provide some power when it does. Stock up on fuel for your generator before a storm hits to stay safe and comfortable no matter how long it may last.
If heavy snow is common in your area, prepare for winter storms by having plenty of supplies on hand to remain comfortable inside your home for several days, potentially with no power. Heavy snow can also weaken the structure of your roof, which is why preparing your roof for winter is essential, and create a hazard by sliding off your roof and endangering those below. If you have a metal roof, installing a snow retention system can help prevent this. As always, be sure that any heating methods you use are safe and properly ventilated before the cold weather hits.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and related deaths and injuries in the United States. Simply being prepared with knowledge can prevent a disaster in your home.
Space heaters are most often involved in home fires caused by heating equipment. Be sure to keep anything that could burn at least 3 feet away from the heater, and monitor children closely if they are nearby.
Dryer fires are an easy problem to prevent. Clean the lint out of your dryer filter after every use to prevent the buildup that leads to fires. Regularly replacing the accordion duct that connects your dryer to the vent is a good precautionary measure. If you wash clothing or other fabrics that are stained with flammable chemicals, hang dry them rather than placing them in the dryer.
With more people at home and staying in during the winter, there is more activity in the kitchen than normal. To prevent kitchen fires, avoid leaving hot appliances unattended. As with any exposed flame or hot surface, be aware of all materials that are in the immediate vicinity of the appliance. Clean the kitchen regularly to avoid grease buildup, and be sure that your kitchen area is properly ventilated. Always run the exhaust fan when cooking on the stovetop.
A winter fire is good for the soul, but it’s important to take certain precautions to protect your home and family. Have your chimney and fireplace checked annually to keep them in safe working condition. If your fireplace doesn’t have an external air supply, consider keeping a window cracked when a fire is burning. Be sure to use well aged and dried wood, and clean out the ashes after burning. Even with these precautions, be sure to keep your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors functioning reliably by replacing the batteries at least once a year.
Winter Home Improvement Projects
A winter cooped up at home provides a great opportunity for interior home improvement projects. Not only will they keep you busy during the darkest days, but many of the improvements you can make could also improve your quality of life during the winter season.
Your basement probably doesn’t get much attention for most of the year, so winter may be the best time to make some improvements. Whether your basement needs a cosmetic makeover, a more complete renovation that will keep the kids busy during the holidays, or critical improvements like additional insulation, winter could be the best time to tackle it. Your basement may need more help regulating temperature and controlling moisture than other parts of your home. Adding insulation will help you maintain temperature and humidity levels in your whole home.
Carpet may feel good under our feet and make your home look nice, but it’s also a great insulator. Taking time to install new carpet in your home could give it that extra boost of cozy for the cold winter months. Replacing old carpet can also increase your air quality by ridding the space of hidden dirt and bacteria.
You’ve probably gathered that quality insulation is key to winter home comfort. Adding insulation in many areas of your home will help decrease your energy bills and keep your home warm and dry. If you missed doing so in preparation for winter, consider adding insulation to crawl spaces, between floor joists, and anywhere that you notice drafts or insufficient existing insulation.
Organizing isn’t just for spring! Decluttering your home, particularly your basement and attic, promotes a calmer state of mind and makes it easier to access your entire home to look for leaks, cracks, and any other areas that may need attention. While your basement and attic space may not be where you want to hang out all winter, having them organized and clutter free could help you avoid the need for repairs later by exposing potential problems now.
Saving energy not only benefits the planet but also saves you money. Installing a programmable thermostat this winter can help. A programmable thermostat allows you to customize your heating and cooling settings to the way you use your home and prevent wasteful, unnecessary heating and cooling when it’s not needed. Some programmable thermostats can even determine the outside weather and any allergen warnings and automatically turn on your home’s fan to improve the indoor air quality when allergen levels are high.