In many places, we are already deep in the middle of winter – in fact, there are signs of spring just starting to pop up around us; the occasional bud on a tree, daffodils just starting to sprout up. However, there are still things that you can do to make sure that the rest of the winter is prepared for and to give yourself a good head start on next year. After all, the more that you are prepared, the better equipped that you will be for any extreme weather. And, if the last year has shown us anything, it is that planning for the unforeseen is essential – whether that is heavier than usual snow or a global pandemic.
Here, we look at how you can prepare for winter on a budget.
Make sure that your home is secured against unwanted pests
In the summer, we do not generally have to worry about pests and vermin entering our homes – it is mild enough for them to enjoy wherever it is that they are. However, when the temperature drops, they scurry into the nearest place that is warm and dry – and that is often our homes.
Unless you want rodents, cockroaches, and spiders to take up residence in your home, it is important to make sure that you take steps to stop them from getting in. Of course, there is never any guarantee, especially against spiders, but there are ways to reduce them.
Seal any cracks or gaps or holes on the exterior of your property to help discourage rodents from getting inside. Be sure that the places where utilities and pipes reach the home are checked. A mouse can fit through a gap the size of a dime.
Check that there are no tree branches or bushes next to your property that can create a bridge for unwanted visitors to enter your house, and cut them back if necessary. Removing any food sources such as piles of mulch and decaying leaves, emptying the trash cans regularly, and making sure gutterings and drains are clear also helps to reduce the risk of pests and vermin getting in to your property,
Make sure that you have plenty of outdoor hardware
Without the proper necessities indoors, bread, milk, toilet paper, and bottled water, you wouldn’t face an incoming winter storm and you must not forget about the provisions you will need to take care of the outside of your home either. Do an early check to ensure you have rakes, shovels, snowblowers, sidewalk salt, and other winter cleaning products you will need to keep everyone safe before, during, and after a period of extreme winter weather. Leave it until the weather is forecasted and you will find everyone else has rushed to the hardware store, leaving it out of stock or for prices to be inflated. Early preparation is key!
Make sure that you have your utilities sorted
If you run off mains electricity, gas and water ensure that you are getting the very best popular deals from your suppliers. If you have gas and oil delivered, switch to Tri Gas & Oil to ensure the best offer and service for your utility needs. This will make sure that you have everything you need and are not paying over the odds for it.
Clear out chimneys and vents
Clogged up and obstructed chimneys and vents can be a major player in carbon monoxide poisoning – and that can be fatal. Before you start using them, make sure they are clear.
Clear leaves and vines; plant and prune shrubs so that vents are not blocked. It is important to remove everything around a vent or chimney as it can obstruct the exhaust, which can cause carbon monoxide to back up in the home as well as trigger shut-off or failure of the heating system.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed, tested, and/or replaced. Fires and carbon monoxide are both deadly and silent, and manufacturers recommend that alarms and detectors are replaced every five years at least. Do not forget to check the batteries in between.
Make sure your pipes are not going to freeze and burst
The last thing you want this winter is burst pipes that have frozen because you didn’t properly prepare them. Cover them in lagging – a layer of foam insulation that protects them from freezing over. Leave your central heating on low if the temperatures drop.
Also, if you have outdoor faucets and water lines, make sure that they are insulated, sprinkler systems are winterized and blown out, and if you have air conditioning systems with a water-shut-off valve, make sure that it is shut off.
If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool, make sure that you have taken steps to winterize that as well.
Acclimatize your body and home
The reflexive response is to rush up to the thermostat and crank up the heat as soon as our homes get chilly. While our bodies are instinctively grateful for our natural urges, not long after, our wallets will start feeling the pain.
To avoid this, get your body used to lower temperatures by gradually dropping the temperature by one degree or so every few weeks. Put on an extra layer of clothing rather than reach for the thermostat, and keep your curtains and blinds open in the morning to make sure you take advantage of the warmth from the sun.
Replace any loose shingles and clear out the gutters
To stop any potential issues caused by melting snow and rain, get up onto the roof – or get a professional up on the roof – and inspect and replace any loose shingles. While up there, clean out the gutters to remove sticks and leaves and any other debris that can block them up and prevent the rain and melted snow from flowing.
These tips will help you to prepare ahead for next winter to save you money and the heartache of things going wrong.