Seven Ways to Winterize Your Home

As the cold weather is (slowly) making its way to Texas, Better Business Bureau is offering a checklist for homeowners to safely prepare their homes for the cold winter months, and perhaps save a few dollars in the process.

According to the Energy Information Administration, home heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 10.2 percent for homeowners who rely on heating oil. Luckily, homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their home before the harshest weather takes hold.

The following is a BBB home winterizing checklist:

Furnace. Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. For newer furnaces, make sure the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is working properly and the pilot light is functioning. You can also hire an inspector to do the job and make sure the furnace is in safe working order. Go to BBB Member Pages to find a trustworthy inspector.

Chimney. Before lighting up the fireplace, have the chimney inspected for animals, debris and leaves that may have fallen in.

Gutters and ridge vents. Gutters should be cleaned to prevent any clogs that would cause rainwater to back up and freeze, making the gutters expand and crack. The ridge vents need to be cleaned as well in order to allow the house to “breath” correctly. Otherwise, air will stagnate and create an unhealthy environment.

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors.  Testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and install fresh batteries if needed. You should also consider replacing smoke alarms older than 10 years.

Caulking and weather stripping. To prevent leaks, you should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, ensure that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn weather stripping.

Seasonal equipment. Drain the water from garden hoses and air conditioner pipes, and the gasoline from the lawnmower and other garden tools. It’s also time to pull out the snow shovels and plows and ensure they are in good repair.

Emergency kit. When a winter storm strikes, an emergency kit should have all essential materials in one handy place. An emergency kit should include flashlights, candles and matches, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio. BBB recommends creating the same emergency kit for the car as well, including a couple blankets.

Any tips we left out? Let us know!