Winter is here and we’re probably more prepared mentally than we’ve ever been, having spent much of the year in our homes. Now it’s time to take a few measures to make sure our spaces continue to be the places where we can get cozy, enjoy warmth, and stay safe.
Try this incense hack for drafts
Preventing cold air from seeping into your home through mis-sealed doors and windows can help save on your energy bill and can avoid annoying drafts. One way to check your sealing is by lighting a stick of incense and holding it up to the edges of your doors and windows. If the smoke whirls instead of rising, you’ve got a little breeze. Find cracks this way and fill with caulk or add weatherstripping.
Let tech detect leaks
Leaks happen. They happen from faucets, showers, tubs, toilets, refrigerators, dishwashers, humidifiers, and more sources … including a big winter danger: burst pipes. Unfortunately, by the time you notice a leak, you’ve got a big mess to deal with in addition to the underlying cause. Consider installing smart leak sensors (or a whole-home detector) to alert you as soon as a leak starts, even if you’re not in the home at the time. Wirecutter and TechHive both chose this one as their top pick of the year.
Give your pipes a sweater
Well, maybe not literally a sweater. But freezing is a real danger for both metal and plastic pipes. When water freezes, it expands. That’s what leads to burst pipes. Now you’ve got a broken pipe and water damage. You can add insulation sleeves or heat tape to keep pipes warm enough to stay unfrozen. Pipes in unheated areas such as garages and basements are most at risk, but think about protecting pipes in cabinets as well. Consumer Reports offers more tips for preventing pipe freeze and what to do if yours do freeze.
Check your air filters
Your HVAC system works hard during the winter, so make sure it’s set up with clean air filters. Having fresh filters not only keeps your air cleaner, it can help make sure your rooms warm properly and help you save on your energy bill. “No filter” is only a thing for social media pics.
Do a supply haul
We all learned in 2020 that people can go overboard in stocking up for emergencies that could knock out your power. We’re not advocating that you clean your local grocery store out of toilet paper, but we do want you to be ready in case of a big winter storm. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, water, blankets, medications, and a reasonable supply of non-perishable food (remember your pets!). The Red Cross has an extensive list of what to prep.
Get ready to fire it up
Being cozy at home is what it’s all about this winter. If you have a fireplace, you’re likely to get a lot of use out of it. Now is a good time to have wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves cleaned to avoid house fires caused by a buildup of creosote in the chimney from past fires. Check gas fireplaces, too, as there are sometimes nests or other debris blocking the chimney.
Put out your winter welcome mat
By “welcome mat,” we mean a waterproof tray inside your main entry where wet shoes and boots can be placed to keep your floor from getting damaged. We also mean actual mats inside and outside your doorways. If you live in a snowy area, you probably already know that a boot scraper or brush can also go a long way in protecting your floors.