New England winters can deliver heavy snow and bitter cold, which means discomfort for us and potential problems for our apartments, condos and houses. Issues often arise when cold air creeps into our homes. Here are some ideas for winter-proofing your residence in order to keep it warm and comfortable, allowing you to focus on the holidays and grandma’s top-secret cookie recipe, rather than having to call a contractor to fix your pipes.
Lock your windows – According to Boston landlord and real estate agent Phillip Robertson, locking your windows prevents drafts. “My tenants will often call me and ask for newer windows,” he says. “They’re always amazed when I stop by and simply ensure that both sides [of their windows] are shut and locked. It makes a huge difference.” Locking your windows seals up spaces and gaps, especially in older models. This can stop cold air from penetrating your home, causing heating costs to skyrocket.
Regularly check exterior vents and chimneys – A common reason heating systems stop working is a buildup of snow or ice that blocks the vents around the exterior of the home. Most heating systems have sensors for carbon monoxide. If a heating system’s vents are blocked by snow, causing carbon monoxide to reenter the home, the heating unit will automatically turn off. If your heating system stops working during the winter, it makes sense to check the vents before making a service call.
Update your thermostat – Older thermostats aren’t as energy-efficient as current models. You may be spending more money on heat than necessary if you have an older thermostat that isn’t providing an accurate temperature reading. Newer models have many functions that can make your heating system run more smoothly and therefore cost you less money. Many smart thermostats come with deals or discounts with heating companies and/or Mass Save. If you plan to change your thermostat, a quick search online can help you get the best deal.
Maintain your heating system – If you have neglected your heating system, it might be time to bring in a professional to service it. Required maintenance can vary depending on your system, but in general, changing filters and cleaning heating vents around your home can help keep your system working efficiently and your home warm and comfortable.
Vincent Forzese, broker/owner at Realty ONE Group — NEST, says, “Simply put, your number-one priority in the winter is ensuring that your heating system is operating safely and effectively.” Forzese also stresses safety measures. “Even if your heating system is working, take safety precautions like ensuring you have carbon monoxide detectors and clearing flammable materials away from your furnace,” he says.
Winterize outdoor irrigation systems – If you have invested in outdoor sprinklers or another irrigation system, don’t forget to winterize it before the snow begins to fall. These systems are prone to break or cause other issues if you forget to service them before the bitter cold sweeps in.
“Keeping a checklist is crucial,” Forzese says. “Homeowners should keep a list of activities they must complete [before] every winter. I suggest my clients use [the end of] daylight savings as an indicator to break out their checklists and begin preparing for the winter season.”
No matter how cold or snowy it gets this winter, these tips will help you enjoy the season.