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Winter and Disaster Prep

5 Home-Improvement Strategies to Ward Off the Winter Woes

Photo: Courtesy of Andre Benz

Winter is coming. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on living conditions, not to mention energy bills. With meteorologists predicting colder-than-average temps in some northern states, you could pay as much as 10.5 percent more than you did last year. As the producer of 52 local home shows, Marketplace Events sees two million homeowners annually all searching for the same thing — to improve their homes and save money. Consider five simple things to beat winter to the punch and keep savings in your corner.

1. Clean out your gutters

Clean out gutters so that rain and snow don’t run over onto your sidewalk and cause slippery patches.

Sure, it’s potentially dangerous. None of us likes standing on a rickety ladder while sticking our hands into a muddy trough of leaves, dirt and gunk. If you have the means, hire someone else to do the dirty work. The bottom line is, somebody’s gotta do it. After all, a clean gutter leads to safer walking paths for you and your family.

2. Check your HVAC and change your air filters

You should inspect your HVAC twice a year. Get a professional to check the wiring and mechanisms of your system. Trying to find carbon monoxide leaks is best left to folks who know what they’re doing. But anyone can change a filter. And you’ll know when it’s time to change it. A good filter is white and opaque, allowing the air to flow freely. A bad filter is black and covered with soot. It’s slowing down the air flow and polluting it, too. Do the easy job yourself and hire someone else for the rest.

3. Reverse your ceiling fans

When the fan blades are turning counterclockwise, you get cooler air in your living space. But by turning your fan clockwise, you can get warmer air because the air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space. This means by simply reversing the direction of the fan, we can also leave the thermostat where it is.

4. Use caulking and weatherstripping

Check around the window framing, under the doors and around the chimney. If air is seeping in and out of tiny crevasses, it means your heat is escaping. But you can trap the heat by caulking around the inside and outside edges of the window. As for the doors, a metal, rubber, foam or vinyl weatherstripping will keep winter air where it belongs — outside.

5. Insulate your pipes

If you’ve ever walked down to your basement and discovered a raging river, you’ve probably already done this. When pipes freeze, they burst. In addition to averting that disaster, you can also reduce your hot water bill by simply applying pre-slit pipe foam and securing it with duct tape.

Shelly Gepfert, Vice President, Marketing, Marketplace Events, [email protected]

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