If you’ve lived in a climate with extreme winter weather for a while, then you are likely well aware of some of the problems that freezing temperatures, high winds, and storm fronts can cause around your home.
Even if you haven’t personally experienced pipes freezing and cracking, a roof caving in under the weight of ice and snow, or windows being broken by detritus whipped up in a storm, you’ve no doubt heard the horror stories.
And every year there are instances of heat going out and people succumbing to the cold because they are unable to leave their homes and they’re unprepared to fend off the effects of extreme weather conditions. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your home is warm and safe during the cold winter months. Here are a few tactics you may want to employ.
- Home energy audit. The place to start when it comes to ensuring that your home is prepared to face the onslaught of winter weather is with an inspection and a series of tests designed to uncover chinks in your home’s armor. And a qualified home energy auditor is just the professional to point out areas of energy waste.Of course, this technician can only deliver a report. From there you’ll have to add weather stripping to windows and doors, seal up vents, pipes, and other potential leaks, and upgrade insulation as recommended. But the end result will be a structure that is ideally suited to preserving the set interior temperature and keeping the cold at bay.
- Proper insulation. Over time, insulation settles and deteriorates, decreasing your protection from outside temperatures. And that’s assuming it was correctly installed and that you had a quality product to begin with. The point is that you may, at some point, have to replace or upgrade your insulation. A good way to tell is if you feel drafts or certain rooms are colder than others. You might also want to upgrade windows (from single- to double-paned options, for example) or at least add storm windows for an extra layer of insulation.
- Storm shutters. In addition to protecting the inside of your home, you should also consider how to ensure that the outside is safe in the event of extreme winter storms. While there’s not a lot you can do to bolster the siding, you should certainly install shutters that can be closed in the event of a storm to ensure that your fragile windows aren’t decimated by flying debris.
- Alternative heating options. Not every home comes with a fireplace and chimney, but if you’re worried about the possibility of your heat going out, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup in place. This could mean installing a wood or pellet stove that you can fire up in the event that you lose your regular heating source. It could just save your life during an extreme cold snap or a storm that makes it impossible to leave your home and seek help.
- Annual inspections. Proper maintenance is a must if you want to ensure that your home and your heating system are prepared for winter. Weather stripping and home insulation will only get you so far and then you need to produce heat and keep winter weather outside.
This means setting up an annual service call with your HVAC technician for inspection, cleaning, and repair of your furnace and ductwork, as well as hiring a roofing contractor to inspect your home’s hat and do any necessary repairs before winter weather strikes.