Preparing for winter can mean a number of things. For some it is pulling out your winter clothes and determining what you need to buy to fix your wardrobe for the season. For those that are financially fortunate, winter means closing up your home and migrating south for the winter. For the rest of us, it is preparing our home, landscaping and property to weather the winter months ahead. The following list is some ideas to winterize your home and property for the months ahead:
Winterize your yard –
- Plant for the spring – Many spring flowers require planting in the fall so they will beautify your yard in the spring. Visit your local Nursery or home improvement center for more information and types for planning a beautiful yard in the spring.
- Prepare you lawn for winter – It is getting late in the season to over-seed with a winter grass, like rye. If you still plan to do so, visit your local garden center to learn the best techniques to be successful. Otherwise, be sure to remove any weeds before the end of the season to help prevent more weeds in the spring. Aerating your lawn is still a great idea to allow more moisture into the ground in the spring. For more tips on lawn care visit: http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lawns/a/fall_lawns.htm
- Hoses and other watering tools – All hoses should be disconnected from the hose bib, drained and stored for the winter. If you do not have frost-free faucets, protect your pipes from freezing through a shut-off valve or hose-bib cover.
- Winterize sprinkler system – Sprinklers are not buried deep enough to withstand freezing temperatures during the winter. Contact a reputable landscaper in your area to flush the lines with are and shut-off valves to prevent damage to pipes through the winter.
- Fertilizers – There are many opinions on fertilizing for the winter. If you are using a chemical fertilizer, use a balanced formula to help your lawn recover in the spring. Organic fertilizers are becoming more readily available and are a great option if you want to protect your family from harmful chemicals. Most organics are specified for the spring or fall. Check with your local nursery, or order from one of many sources online. (http://www.groworganic.com/browse_fertilizer.html)
- More tips for your yard: http://landscaping.about.com/cs/lawns/a/fall_lawn_care.htm
Check your HVAC System – Typically overlooked by many (I have been guilty of this in the past), getting a system check on your furnace can ensure a warm home for the winter. The cost is minimal, $100-150 for your home and the value is huge. Many companies offer maintenance agreements that cover both a spring and fall checkup (i.e: http://www.greentrucks.com/max-maintenance.html). Routine maintenance can ensure your system is working properly and keep you warm throughout the winter. Be sure to change your filters each month – this not only improves air quality, but uses less electricity as your fans will not have to work as hard to move the air.
Install a programmable thermostats – Most homes are vacant for the majority of the day. You can purchase inexpensive programmable thermostats at any hardware store and program the system to setback when you are routinely away from home, during the day and on weekends. Honeywell offers an online wizard to help you program some thermostat models: http://yourhome.honeywell.com/yourhome/Applications/Wizard/Wizard.aspx. Set the thermostat low if you do not use most rooms in your home and use efficient space heaters or fireplaces to stay heat the rooms you use to a more comfortable level. (Visit: http://yourhome.honeywell.com/Consumer/Cultures/en-US/Products/Thermostats/Default.htm for thermostats or http://www.edenpurestore.com/ or http://www.vornado.com/ for more information on space heaters)Check doors and windows for cracked caulking and leaks – Doors and windows are the primary sources of heat loss in the winter. Look for gaps around windows where caulking has cracked allowing air to enter and escape the home. Look at the weather-stripping (sides, top and the sweep below) on your doors and replace it if it allows air and light to pass through. Keeping blinds and curtains open during the day, to allow the sun to heat your home, and closed at night to insulate from the cold will make a big difference in your comfort and energy bills. Visit the Home Depot for more information: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentView?pn=SF_MS_KH_Seal_Your_Home&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053