Either way, the Starks were right: winter is coming, and you want your house to look more like Christmas and less like the White Walkers are dropping by for lunch.
Luckily for you, we’re taking you through all the winter preparedness tasks you need to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate and a Game of Thrones marathon without sweating over your electric and heating bills.
Check for Air Leaks
First things first: check for air leaks.
Listen, those little holes in your house and gaps in your doors and windows don’t just let in a draft. They’re directly related to worrisome increases in your monthly utility bill since your heating system has to work harder to keep your house warm.
Do your house (and your wallet) a favor. Check all windows, doors, air vents, and phone lines (really anything that opens your house to the elements) for cracks where cold air could slip in.
And if you find them, don’t wait until you’re freezing to get it fixed. Call in the pros to fix it for you, like the nice folks over at Warmseal.
Clean the Gutters
Yes, we know. It’s the worst job ever and you hate it more than a slice of fruitcake.
Here’s the thing: overflowing gutters aren’t just a sign of neighborly neglect. Clogged gutters mean that rain (or melted snow and ice) have nowhere to go. Take a wild guess where that water ends up.
Funny how it has a nasty habit of sneaking in places you don’t want it. Like your walls. Or your basement where you keep the Christmas decorations and photos of your kids.
Seriously, put on your grownup pants (and gloves) and go clean your gutters. Or hire the pros to do it. Just don’t let your gutters stay clogged until the first snow rolls in.
Clean Your Chimney
Despite the fact that Santa and the Grinch climb down the chimney, doing your chimney sweep impression is probably not your idea of a good time.
Much like cleaning the gutters, it’s an unpleasant but necessary job. Especially if you have any intention of sitting around a crackling fire in the wintertime.
A chimney full of debris won’t stop your fire from crackling merrily, but it will unevenly heat your house, which brings up your utility bill. Also, it’s a huge fire hazard, and nothing quite says winter wonderland like a visit from the fire department.
Your chimney should be cleaned once a year at an absolute minimum. You can try and do it yourself if you’re willing to get your hands dirty, but it’s frankly safer to bring in a chimney cleaning company to do it for you. That way you can warm up around a fire without a care in the world.
Tune Your Heating System
You’ve probably noticed by now that tricks to help your heating system are a running theme here. And sure, you can dance around the subject, but it’s smarter to directly address your heating system.
If you know your way around a heating system, you can take an hour or two to make sure your heating system is in good working order. If not, it’s worth spending $80-$100 to have a technician come in.
Think of it this way: you’ll be much happier spending that money now rather than on the coldest day of the entire year when your heating is out and you’re 150th in line.
If you want a truly good technician, make sure to hire someone from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
Check the Attic
Ah, the attic. Home of all your childhood nightmares, and that place in the house you need to inspect once a year.
If you want to save on heating costs, it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get down to business.
When you’re in the attic, peel back your insulation. You’re looking for cutouts that were put in the wall for electrical fixtures, fans, outlets, and pipes. These need to be sealed.
And while you’re at it, you should also check your chimney, ducts, vent stacks, and flues and seal them on the inside.
Hit the Roof
Safely, anyway. Or scan it with binoculars, whatever floats your boat.
You should be on the lookout for any loose, damaged, or missing shingles. Guess what? Every missing shingle is money you’re throwing away when winter comes knocking.
If you only have a few missing shingles, you can repair it yourself (safely, of course). For larger sections, though, you’re going to want to hire roofers. Depending on the extent of the damage, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for repairs.
Set the Temperature Manually
This involves a few steps.
First, you need a programmable thermostat. This will automatically adjust heating in your home when you don’t need it as much, like when you’re not in the house during the day, which means it can help cut down your bills without you ever having to think about it.
However, whether or not you have a programmable thermostat, you can save money with one simple trick: set your thermostat to one temperature and leave it alone. At most, set it for one temperature in the morning and one and night and don’t touch it otherwise.
This will reduce the amount of work your heating system has to do to accommodate fluctuations in heat. Less energy expenditure means a lower energy bill, which makes everyone a happy camper.
Winter Preparedness and Other Home Advice
Your house is, well, home. You love your home, and you want to take care of it, whether it’s winter preparedness or your next awesome BBQ.
But you’re also curious enough to want to try new things.
We’ve got your back.
Check out our blog for all kinds of ideas to make your house a little homier (and a lot less expensive), like these five simple ways to go green at home.