Are you ready for winter’s arrival? It’s right around the corner, and while the first snowfall takes many of us by surprise, winter comes at roughly the same time each year.  In the midst of fall schedules and routines settling into place, our homes are often neglected in this busy time of year. However, prepping your home for the winter season is extremely important, especially given the winters we receive here in Grey Bruce. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a nice list of things to remember when preparing your family, your home, and your property for the cold months ahead. Don’t put these things off until there is snow on the ground – get yourself ready ahead of time with these simple tips.

Interior

 

Storage

  • Reorganize that wardrobe! If you don’t have room for summer and winter clothes to be in your closet at the same time, it’s a good idea to vacuum seal your summer clothes for next year. Vacuum sealing is a great way to not only save space in your closet for your winter clothes, but it’s great way to make the most of your storage areas too.
  • Take the winter bedding out of storage. Unless you’re one of those people who love to be freezing cold when they sleep, switching out the summer bedding for the warmer winter bedding is a great way to counter the drop in temperature at night. Most families will use thick quilts and blankets at that time of the year.
  • Tidy all the summer decorations away. Lots of people like to brighten their homes during the warmer months with light colored cushions, curtains, and artwork. Now is the best time to stash that away for next year and fetching the winter decor down from the attic.
  • While you are storing the summer decorations, now is a great time to move the Christmas decorations close to the attic door. When everyone’s excited for the holidays, families will want to access them as quickly as possible.

Pantry

  • Stock up on your favourite candles. Burning candles not only adds a little heat (okay, not much, but every bit counts!) but help to keep your home smelling great during the months that you keep your windows closed.  You also want to keep them stocked *just* in case of a power outage.
  • On that power outage note, it’s also a good idea to stock up on batteries for various flashlights and other devices that will need to be used during a power outage.
  • Stock up on essentials. At the very least, homeowners will require a shovel and a flashlight.
  • Tissues.  If your family is anything like mine, we go through TONS of tissues in the fall and winter.  The best part is that they generally go on sale at this time of year, so take advantage of those lower prices and make sure your noses are covered!
  • Keep a stock of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Everyone enjoys a warm drink when they arrive home and come in from the cold.
  • Consider preparing meals in bulk and freezing them for later.  While this takes some preparation and a dedicated amount of time, it can save you a lot of hassle for future busy days when you’re running to and from the house for work, school, sports and other activities.

Utilities/Appliances

  • Inspect your boiler or furnace to ensure it is working properly. Any faults could cause significant problems during the winter months. Even better, hire a professional heating and cooling company to inspect your heating system for you. This way, you can be sure that it will heat your home properly this winter.
  • Consider getting your ductwork cleaned. After months of not being in use, it is good to inspect and also have it cleaned to cut down on allergens and dust.  Many people think that winter is worse for dust, but it is simply from lack of use and all the dust that settles in your heating system gets kicked around as soon as you turn on the furnace.
  • Insulate the hot water tank or heater. This is a great way to cut down on energy costs all times of the year, not just in the winter.
  • Check your fire and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working properly. This is something that should be done regularly, regardless of the time of year.
  • Insulate all exposed water pipes. If the liquid freezes and the pipes crack during the winter, you will probably face a hefty plumbing bill, not to mention a big mess and potential damage to your home.
  • Add a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are a great way to save on energy. Automatically turn the heat down every night and have it come back up to your desired temperature in the morning; all while you sleep! Going away over the holidays? You can turn the heat down a few degrees while you’re gone, but have it come back to normal temperature just in time for your arrival home. Those who get sick of having to wait half an hour for the home to warm up in the mornings should invest in a programmable thermostat. Not only that, but the are a great way to
  • Invest in a space heater. Space heaters and portable heaters don’t use a lot of electricity, but they’re excellent for heating a single room.  This means that if you are able to section off one area of the house and not heat it with your furnace or main source of heat, you can still heat one room that you use occasionally (ie: a guest room, craft room, etc). This allows people who don’t need to heat their entire home to save a small fortune on energy bills.
  • While this one might be a little late, I think it’s worth mentioning.  The most expensive time to fill your propane tank if you use a propane furnace/stove is during the fall and early winter months.  If you can beat the rush, before the propane companies jack their prices up, you may be able to save yourself a decent chunk of change.

Home Efficieny

  • Consider hanging thermal curtains that will hold in the heat better than the airy ones normally hung in the summer.
  • Add some attic insulation. People who don’t have enough attic insulation should invest in some to reduce the amount of heat lost through the roof. Adding cellulose insulation with a blower is an easy and cost-effective way to significantly increase the R-value of your attic and put an end to excess heat loss.
  • Set ceiling fans to run clockwise at a low speed. The clockwise blade movement will lift cold air towards the ceiling and push warm air downwards. This will help to make the room feel warmer and will help save some money on your heating costs as well.
  • Inspect any windows for signs of damage, moisture or mould growing and give a thorough cleaning.  This is usually done during a “spring cleaning” but moisture locked inside windows all winter will only create a larger headache in the springtime.  Look specifically for damage; even the smallest crack in a window will cause dramatic heat loss throughout the span of the winter.
  • Dig out your boot trays; this isn’t just handy in the winter when snow melts off of your boots and collects, it also helps prevent leaves and other debris from autumn being tracked too far into your home.
  • Find out where you’ve stored your humidifiers.  Maintaining the relative humidity in your home is essential to preventing colds and easing their symptoms.  When a virus hits your home, you want to be able to have the humidifiers handy instead of having to go search for them.  For a more frugal approach, consider placing a shallow dish of water near or on top of a floor vent to add moisture to the air.

Exterior

While you’ve been outside for most of the summer enjoying the short warm season we have in Grey Bruce, you probably haven’t been checking over your gutters, fences, pathways, etc every day.  It’s always a good practice to go through each part of your yard, both front and back, to ensure everything is ready and secure for storage and over-wintering.

 

House

 

  • Check fence panels in the yard. Strong winds can often cause fence panels to become damaged or dislodged. Assessing them before the wind hits and adding reinforcements is an excellent move.sa
  • Look for any loose or damaged siding.  These will need to be repaired quickly before animals get the urge to nest and have a chance to get inside your walls, and it will also prevent water damage to your interior come springtime.
  • Clean the guttering and eaves trough around the property and remove any obstructions. Proper drainage is important once the snow starts to melt, an obstructions could cause ice damage when the temperature starts going above freezing during the day and then below freezing at night. With a bit of luck, that should mean snow can melt and drain correctly.
  • Replace any loose shingles that could become dislodged during a storm the high winds of winter storms
  • Repair any possible leaks in the roof. As mentioned before, water expands when it freezes, so it’s very likely that it’s possible that small holes could become worse and cause significant damage.
  • Sweep the chimney. All fires create soot and residue build-up, especially wood burning fireplaces and stoves. This soot and residue, called creosote, is the cause of chimney fires, Some homes still have traditional fireplaces, and so it’s vital that professionals take a look before the winter arrives.

 

Yard

  • Inspect trees outside of the property to ensure there aren’t any loose branches that might break during a storm and damage the home. This is especially important in the case of an ice storm as many branches, or even entire trees, could potentially come down and cause damage to your home or property.
  • Close your pool for the season if you haven’t already. Properly winterizing your pool according to the proper guidelines for your specific type of pool is vital if you want it to remain in good condition and resist any damage from the weather.
  • Get some salt or other ice-melting product to store inside the house, so that it’s possible to remove ice from your front porch, driveway, or other pathways outside. Besides being generally safe, no one wants to fall or slip when attempting to reach their car for the morning’s commute to work or school.
  • Do you remember where you put your snow shovel in the spring this year? Is it buried behind other tools in your garage somewhere? It would be a good idea to locate it and keep it handy; you never know when you’ll wake up to six inches of snow outside your front door.
  • Bring outdoor furniture inside. People with large sheds or garages should consider bringing their garden furniture inside to protect it from the elements and prolonging its life.
  • Make sure your car has a snow brush and a shovel in it. Have you ever forgotten to check this only to have it snow several inches while you’re at work? We’re getting closer every day to when snow can happen at a moment’s notice, and you don’t want to have to go looking for a brush or a shovel when that happens.
  • Check your snowblower to make sure it’s in good running order for faults. There’s nothing worse than waiting until the first big dump of snow to start your snowblower, only to realize it’s not working as expected. Snowblowers are handy devices that most people will want to use during the winter months. So, it makes sense to ensure the tool is fully operational before the cold weather strikes.

 

Garden

  • Put all those gardening tools away in the shed until spring. Make sure they are clean and dry, to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Organizing your garden shed will make more room for storage, but will also help you in the spring when it is time to pull the furniture and garden items back out.  Our warm season is short, and you will always want to make the most of it.
  • Empty outdoor water lines for hoses and turn them off for the winter. That should stop the pipes from breaking in the cold weather, and making sure you drain your hose before winter will keep your hose in optimal condition without getting cracks from frozen water.
  • Relax! You’re as ready as anyone else.

 

Be sure to put some of those suggestions into action this fall to ensure your home is as prepared as possible for any eventuality. With a bit of planning, you’ll navigate the cold weather will ease and avoid any costly issues. All you have to do then is start thinking about getting things ready for the summer, but we’ll leave that for another time. Thanks for stopping by today!