The winter of 2012-2013 was mild, and temperatures in the Philadelphia area remained warm throughout the fall — but this winter is likely going to be a different story. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold, wet winter in 2013-2014.
Protect your home this season to avoid extensive damage, indoors and out, and to keep your energy bills down. Protecting your home means making sure everything is in working order and doing what you can to keep the cold air out.
Check Your Windows
Cold air can easily enter your home through small openings around the frame of your windows. You can check to see if your window are drafty by having a professional company conduct an energy audit and blower test, or you can go the DIY route. Look closely at the window frames to see if there are any visible cracks or gaps. Also look at the door frames, electrical outlets, and areas where a cable or cord enters the home.
Test for drafts by closing a door or window and having someone stand outside it with a fan or hair dryer. Hold a lit incense stick up to the window or door frame. If the smoke from the incense blows towards you, the air from the fan or hair dryer is leaking into your home.
Block cold air from your home by caulking cracks on the door or window frames or by adding weatherstripping. You can also cover your windows in a clear plastic film for the winter. Window film isn’t the most attractive thing in the world, but it is effective.
Check Your Heating System
After being off-duty for spring and summer, your furnace or heating system needs to be prepared to get back in the game. Hire a professional heating contractor to check out your furnace. The contractor will check out your heating system for leaks in the pipes or blocked pipes.
If you have forced-air heat, you’ll want to install new filters or clean the filters you have. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of your furnace and reduce heat output by up to 70 percent, according to the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation’s Weatherization Manual. With old, clogged filters, you’ll end up with a colder house and higher heating bill.
Clean Out the Gutters
Protect your home this winter by keeping the gutters clean. Leaves falling from the trees can build up in the gutters on the side of your roof and keep water from draining away. If you don’t remove them, those leaves can make their way down the downspout, clogging it up and making it more likely that the gutter will tear away from the home or that water will start seeping in. If climbing up a ladder to clean out the gutters doesn’t suit you, you can always hire a professional to do it.
Clean the Yard
Even a small Philly yard needs some attention before winter hits. Rake up any leaves in your front and back yards. Leaves left on the ground make it more likely for people to slip, especially after rain or snow. Leaves allowed to pile up on lawns also give pests and pathogens a place to live during the cold months, meaning it’s more likely you’ll have lawn-care issues come spring.
Take the time to winter-proof your home before freezing temperatures hit. You’ll be warmer and more comfortable, and you won’t have to worry about high heating costs or expensive damage to interior or exterior.
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