Snow days. Endless cups of hot chocolate. Guilt-free binge-watching sessions on the couch. There’s a lot to appreciate about winter, but drafty houses and frozen pipes don’t make the cut. Luckily, these cold-weather maintenance hacks will work wonders to make the season more bearable-while helping you save money-so you can spend less time worrying about the weather and more time snuggling under cozy blankets.
Make Friends with Your Shovel
Not only is shoveling snow a great cardio workout (true story), it’s also an essential part of winter property maintenance. By shoveling the white fluffy stuff away from your house’s foundation whenever there’s a big snowfall, you could prevent future flooding and damage to your home when the snow begins to melt. And hey, if it’s an especially snowy winter, you might even be able to give up that pricey gym membership.
If you’re wearing three sweaters, can see your breath inside the house and somehow still have astronomical heating bills, you’ve got drafts, friend. It’s time to identify those suckers and cover them up.
A visual inspection of likely culprits (think door and window frames, baseboards, vents, fans, electrical outlets and window-mounted air conditioners) can help you pinpoint gaps and cracks, or you can try the blow-dryer trick: Head outside with your favourite hairstyling tool while your partner stays inside with a lit candle. Blast the dryer around potential gaps and if the candle flickers or goes out, you’ve figured out where the cold air is sneaking in.
To seal up pesky gaps around doors and windows, try cheap and cheerful weatherstrip foam; just compress it into the empty spaces to seal out air. A spray can of insulating foam sealant will take care of cracks, and a window insulation kit (basically just a clear, insulating film) will provide even more protection against drafts.
Say No to Frozen Pipes
Because repairing damage caused by a burst pipe is an incredibly unsexy way to spend money, we highly recommend preventing your pipes from freezing in the first place. If they’re located in, say, an unheated space, pipes are particularly susceptible to sub-zero temperatures. Slow the heat transfer by covering them up with insulation sleeves or wrapping, and make sure any cracks or holes in the exterior walls nearby are sealed up to keep cold air outside where it belongs.
Replace Furnace Filters
There’s nothing wrong with relying on a furnace to keep your house toasty warm, but if its filter gets clogged-and it inevitably will from regular use-that lovely hot air won’t get distributed and do its wintery job. Even worse, your furnace will run constantly without actually heating anything, causing your energy bills to soar. Make sure to change those filters on the regular to keep costs down and heat levels steady.
Protect Outdoor Gear
When you spend big bucks on a luxe outdoor couch, the last thing you want is to have it ruined by snow, sleet and slush. Invest in a quality protective cover and store cushions inside if at all possible (this is where basements and sheds come in handy). Extend the same careful courtesy to the rest of your outdoor gear-tables, chairs, and lawnmowers-and you’ll be sitting pretty come spring.