Natural disasters can be frightening. From hurricanes and tornadoes to earthquakes, from droughts to floods, no area of the country is immune to them. Whether you were personally affected by this last year’s storms and flooding or not, the experience should serve as an excellent reminder to take steps towards preparing your home for the winter season.
This year, be prepared. Keep heating costs down in a proactive effort to save money and protect your home from preventable damage by following our comprehensive to-do list before the real weather sets in.
1. Inspect the weatherstripping around your home
If you have ever felt a draft of wind in the winter or feel your cold air escape during the summer, it’s time to inspect the weather stripping around your exterior doors and windows. Give your home a quick run-through, checking for visible and hidden drafts. You can do this by holding a lit candle near the following areas:
- Vents and fans
- Plumbing areas
- Air conditioners
- Mail chutes
- Electrical and gas lines
If the candle flickers, you’ve got a draft.
Seal up all holes and reinforce existing points of entry with weather stripping. You can pick some up at your local hardware store. Follow the simple instructions and you’ll be keeping that cold air out and the warm air inside — right where it belongs.
This small amount of funds you spend at the local home improvement store on weatherstripping will save more on your energy bill.
2. Consider replacing windows with double-pane windows
If you have an older home, you may want to consider investing in updated double-pane windows. While the up-front cost is a lot more, the two layers of glass have air or gas in between them, maximizing the insulation capabilities and saving you even more money on that energy bill.
3. Have your furnace inspected
Crank up the heat before the cold blows in to check if everything is in working order. After turning on your heating system, walk through your home to check if every heating vent is blowing warm air. If anything needs repairs, tend to it now while it’s still warm.
Having your furnace inspected before the winter season for a small fee could prevent an emergency further down the road when these professionals are much busier.
4. Reverse your ceiling fans
Flick the reverse switch on your ceiling fans to make the blades spin in a clockwise direction instead of counterclockwise. This way, the fans will produce an updraft, pushing the rising hot air down keeping the entire room warm.
This is especially crucial in rooms that have high ceilings or are two stories high. You might find that putting your ceiling fans to work allows you to crank down the thermostat by a couple degrees trimming your energy bill during the winter.
5. Clean out your gutters
Here on the coast, we see quite a large amount of rain during the winter season, making it crucial your home’s gutters are working properly. The biggest mistake homeowners make ahead of the winter season is not unclogging leaves from gutters, causing interior and exterior water damage and mold. If your gutters are clogged with sodden leaves, they can bunch up and block the drainage, allowing rainwater to slowly seep into your roof causing excessive damage. You can do this chore on your own or hire a professional roofer to get the job done for you.
6. Trim up trees and branches near your home
Take a walk around your home’s exterior and inspect all trees and bushes near its facade. Look for low-hanging or loose branches that are close to your house. If you find any, prune them now so they don’t end up cracking from heavy rain or wind and causing damage to your home.
7. Take inventory of your emergency supplies and stock up in the off-season
Don’t be stuck facing empty store shelves days before the first big storm hits. Prepare now! Stock up on water, canned food, batteries, flashlights, and storm lanterns. You may also want to invest in an external charger or generator for some juice when the lights go out.
Preparing for the winter season is more than preventing expensive home repair costs; it is an investment in the value of your home. Many people depend on insurance to cover them, but there are a few cases where that may not be enough. If you find yourself needing some extra funds for repairs to your home, Bay Federal has competitive rates on HELOCS that can get you ready for the winter season. Visit our website to find out more.
About Bay Federal Credit Union
Bay Federal Credit Union is a full-service, not-for-profit financial institution that serves over 86,000 members and 2,400 local businesses throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties. With more than $1.6 billion in assets, Bay Federal is the largest member-owned financial institution in the region. The organization has been proudly serving its members and the community since 1957. Bay Federal is a certified Community Development Financial Institution, with a primary mission of promoting community development alongside their financial activities. Bay Federal has an award-winning employee volunteer program in which employees have given their own money and volunteer for numerous local schools, nonprofit organizations, and community events each year.
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