Tune up your heating system

To minimize your winter heating costs, make sure to tune your heating system before the consistent cold sweeps in. It’ll cost you about $100 for a thorough professional tune up, or you can save the money for a new sled and tune it yourself! 

First, inspect the furnace. Make sure it’s clean, and without black soot or residue. Make sure the flames are blue and steady.

Second, clean the furnace. When the furnace is cool (and the circuit breaker is off), remove the sides and use a vacuum with a long nozzle to get rid of any dust. Use a damp rag to clean the blades of the fan.

Next, repair the furnace. If your furnace has a belt, make sure it’s free of cracks and in good condition. Check the tension by simply pushing down on it.

Fourth, reassemble the furnace. Reattach the furnace panels, and turn the circuit breaker back on.

Finally, replace the filter. Don’t forget to change your furnace filter once a month in winter.

Clean your roof and gutters

It’s not the most glamorous job, but it’ll save you a headache in the future.

First, assess any damage from hail or storms; look for loose or missing shingles and replace them. Check your gutters for dents or holes. Call your insurance company, if necessary.

Second, check the flashing around chimneys and make sure it’s in its proper place, as this prevents the melting snow from entering your home.

Third, insulate your attic. Pop your head into the upper parts of your home to assess the insulation; add more if necessary.

Next, clean your gutters. Wear a long sleeve shirt, grab a safe extendable ladder, and scoop the gunk onto a plastic tarp placed underneath you, to eliminate a messy yard.

Fifth, add extensions to the spouts to send the melting ice and snow in the right direction. Collecting rain water is now legal, but make sure you’ve winterized your rain barrels or have redirected your water away from the barrel so they doesn’t freeze and crack!

Caulk around doors and windows

One of the most overlooked ways to improve energy efficiency in your home during the winter season is simple: caulk! Caulk adheres best in at least 40 degrees, so make sure you wait for a warmer day to do this project.

First, choose a high-quality silicone caulk. Silicone is durable and can withstand extreme temperatures.

Second, buy a caulk gun. No, you can’t just squeeze out caulk like toothpaste! Insert the silicone caulk tube.

Next, apply a thin layer around your window, and use a wet finger to smooth out the bead. It will take a little practice, but you’ll get the hang of it. 

Turn off exterior faucets

It can be a huge bummer to forget to turn off the exterior faucets to your home before a cold snowstorm moves in. No one likes a burst pipe!
First, turn off the water supply to the faucet from inside the house. Exterior faucets should have a separate shutoff valve inside the house, but not all of them do. On older homes, these valves are typically located at the ceiling somewhere close to the outside faucet.
Second, remove and store garden hoses. Use gravity to drain the hoses, then clean them and store them indoors.
Third, insulate the exterior faucet. This can help protect the pipes from freezing in the cold weather. You can find easy to install faucet insulation at your local hardware store.

Check for carbon-monoxide dangers

Especially in older homes, heating systems aren’t always the most efficient. If you use natural gas or wood-burning stoves, be aware of carbon-monoxide dangers!
First, purchase carbon-monoxide detectors from your local hardware store; they’re inexpensive.
Second, place them near every sleeping area in the house, and also in the basement.
Lastly, check the batteries regularly to make sure they’re working properly.