When you live in cold-weather destinations, it’s essential to prepare your property for extreme conditions. But Denver’s bipolar weather can change in the blink of an eye, making it hard to prepare for a noticeable change in seasons. Whether you’re ready for the snow or not, there are a few important things to do to help improve the warmth and efficiency in your home to protect your investment once that first inevitable cold front comes through. These are all fairly easy DIY chores, or you can hire out some help.
Once your home is winter-ready, you’ll be all set for snuggle season. But if you haven’t done everything on our winterizing checklist already – don’t panic! There are still plenty of opportunities to take care of some of these on that wondrous warm-weather winter day.
Anything outside is at a greater risk of being affected by the elements, so you’ll want to address them before worrying about anything inside the home. Blow out your sprinklers, disconnect and store outdoor hoses, let spigots fully drain (then close them), and turn off your exterior water main so they don’t freeze. Ideally, you’d do this before the first deep freeze (usually in late October or early November), but the sooner, the better.
When ice freezes, it can cause pipes to burst. Insulate any exterior water lines with pipe wrap or foam pipe sleeves (waste lines are okay). This shouldn’t be an issue with new builds but is common in older homes. Each will need insulation and possibly heat trace.
If your home feels drafty, check windows and door frames and use a weather sealer if you observe any gaps. Remove the old, worn-out caulk before giving your home a good once over with the caulk gun. Focus on frames to keep the heat in and your energy bills low.
After the leaves have fallen, get up and the roof and clean out your gutters. Too much build-up can cause blockages, foundation cracks, and in extreme instances, roof collapse. Plan to clean out the gutters twice annually, generally in the spring and fall. Pro Tip: Gutter waste makes great composting material.
It’s actually illegal not to remove snow from your sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm, so whether you hire someone (landscaping companies usually offer contracts), or plan shovel yourself, have a snow-removal plan in place. You’ll want to pave a path to your front walk, sidewalks, driveways, and any deck space — the mail person will thank you.
It may take your heating system a minute to reach peak efficiency when you switch from AC to heat for the first time. To get it going quicker, swap out your air filters and test the thermostat before the first deep freeze. Not only does this ensure it’s working effectively, but it also improves your indoor air quality as the traps tend to collect dust, mold, dander, and other particles. When you aren’t home, keep it set a bit cooler (about 4-5 degrees) to save money on the energy bill.
Mineral and chemical build-up are common in water heaters. Flush it out once a year (not needed for an instant heater) for an extended life span.
Turn your ceiling fans in the opposite direction in winter. Hot air rises, so a reverse flow actually draws warm air downward and increases efficiency. It may sound counterintuitive, but a fan is actually a great way to keep rooms comfortable warm without significantly increasing your heating bill.
For doors and windows with older weather stripping, draft guards and window film work wonders to keep heat in. Although not the most visually appealing addition to a home, they’re a cheap and effective solution in a pinch. If your home does get very cold, it may be time to consider replacing old weather stripping and windows for better insulation.
Chimneys create drafts. If you don’t use yours regularly, get a chimney balloon to protect against cold air coming in. Even a closed chimney requires some insulative buffer. Just don’t forget to remove it if you plan on making a roaring fire!
Colorado gets very dry in the winter –skin cracking dry. Bust out your humidifier to add some moisture to the air, which can reduce colds and allergies and help you breathe easier.