Prepping your home for cold weather pays off

(StatePoint) Preparing your home for colder weather can help ensure your family stays warm and safe, as well as save you money on energy-related costs and potential damage to your home’s structure.

“I recommend homeowners do a thorough home inspection at least every five years,” says Tom Capuano, a franchisee of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Capuano recommend homeowners take the following steps to cover the bases.

Doors and Windows
If you can feel cool air coming through the bottom of the door, replace the weather stripping and door sweeps to save about one-third of your average annual heating and cooling costs. Next, caulk drafty windows and replace old single-pane windows with thicker, more modern versions. Install storm windows and insulate walls and attics.

Chimney and Flue
Annual inspections of the chimney and flue minimize the threat of chimney fires. Additionally, add a chimney cap to keep out moisture and ensure your chimney has an appropriate liner to separate system emissions from the home’s structure. Inspect and maintain chimney flashing.

Outdoor Areas
Ensure gutters and downspouts are flowing freely. Clogs can cause water to make contact with the foundation walls of your home and creep under your roofing.

Seal cracks in your home’s foundation to prevent moisture intrusion. Seal decks and fences to prevent the wood from rotting.

The roof takes the brunt of the cold weather, so repair leaks, however minor, and replace loose shingles.

Winterize pipes with insulation, especially those that are exposed to the elements or located in unheated areas. Know where your water shut-off valves are located so they can be turned off in case of a pipe leak.

Trim tree branches that could potentially fall onto your home or driveway. Check with your local municipality about regulations.

Programmable thermostats can cut energy bills by $100 or more each year. For every degree your thermostat is adjusted, you can save up to one percent on energy bills.

In-Home Leaks
Repair leaking faucets and toilets, which can add up to 20 gallons of water per person per day. Also consider low-flush toilets and showerheads. Low-flush toilets use less than 1.6 gallons of water per flush and low-flow showerheads use up to 36 percent less water. Some local water department offer rebates for making the upgrade.

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