Winter is (officially) only a few weeks away, but I know many people are already experiencing winter weather. The temperatures here dropped about a week ago, and it got me thinking about all the little things, and a few big things, that I do around the house this time of year. It doesn’t take much to get your home ready for winter, just a little time, and maybe be a small investment or two, but these little tasks can go a long way to making your home a cozy haven during the cold weather months.
Things to Do to Get You Home Ready for Winter
The first place I always start is with some home maintenance. Most of these tasks only take a bit of time to complete and you could probably knock all of them out in a day… maybe a weekend.
Replace Furnace Filters
This is perhaps the most important item on my list. Replacing the filters in the furnace costs me around $10 but it goes a long way towards keeping our energy bills down. Clogged filters impede air flow which means that the nice warm air we want travelling through the house isn’t as strong as it should be, making rooms take longer to warm up and it might be tempting to turn up the thermostat to compensate, which means our heating bills are going to start to go up.
If you’ve replaced your filters recently, and you don’t want to have to replace them again so soon, pull them out and give them a vacuüm. It will help keep them going a little longer. I discovered this trick one year when we went to purchase new filters and every store in our town was out of them. One of our friends suggested vacuuming our current filter out to help increase furnace efficiency while we waited for the stores to restock. This is just a temporary solution, but it did help quite a bit.
Dust Vent Covers and Vacuum Vents
Have you ever noticed that dusty smell when you turn on your furnace for the first few times? If you’ve replaced your furnace filters, chances are that smell is coming from your vents. Now is a great time to pull off those covers give them a good dusting and vacuüm the vents out as best you can. If your heat source is baseboard heaters or radiators, now is a great time to give them a dusting as well.
Turn Off Your Out Door Water
No-one wants a burst pipe! If you can, turn off your outdoor water. If you can’t turn off your outdoor water make sure the pipes are as insulated as possible. You can wrap the spigot with insulation too for added security. (I got that tip from our neighbour. ) Though we don’t get super freezing temperatures, he wraps his every year to be safe.
If you haven’t already, drain your garden hose and store in your shed, garage or wherever it is you store your hose. This is especially important if you live somewhere where it gets really cold. Draining out your hose will prevent ice from forming and possibly cracking the hose. If you do live somewhere where winters are super cold make sure you store your hose in a place where you won’t have to move it again until it’s had a chance to warm up in the spring.
Check for Drafts Around Windows and Doors
This one is a little more time-consuming, but it is worth the effort, not only for keeping your home warm, but for saving a little on those heating bills. Check for drafts around windows or doors by running your hand along the edges, or gently move a lit candle around the perimeter. Check the caulking and weather-stripping and replace as needed. If it is already really cold where you are, you might not be able to replace the caulking until spring, but there are other alternatives out there. You can use window kits that are found in the hardware store to seal your windows with plastic, or you can check out some of the ideas I have on my Winterize Your Home Pinterest Board.
Store Snow Shovels Where They are Easy to Grab
We rarely see snow here, but when we lived up north shoveling the walkways and drives was an almost daily event. Storing your snow shovels where they are easy to grab when you need them is so important. Trust me, having to try to dig out the shed door to get to those shovels is not a fun task.
Stock up on Sidewalk Salt and Keep it Near all Doors
Slippery walkways and drives are no fun in the winter, and can be down right dangerous! Help prevent slips and falls by using sidewalk salt (or gravel). Keep some handy near all doors so you can toss some down when you need to.
Check Smoke Alarms and CO² Monitors
With furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, holiday lights and more going on in the winter, it is so important to make sure that your smoke alarms and CO² Monitors are in good working order. Test them to make sure that they are working, replace the batteries if needed. Now is also a great time to make sure you have smoke detectors where you need them. For more information about the best placement for smoke detectors, you can check out my post about Fire Safety here. There is nothing more important than keeping you family safe.
Inside the Home
There are a few things you can do inside the house to get your home ready for winter. They are just little touches here and there than can help make this chilly time of year a little more cozy and a little more manageable.
Add a Tray to Your Entry for Wet Footwear
Add a rubber tray or mat to you entry way to collect wet footwear. It is so much easier to clean a tray than it is to mop the entry way each time someone comes in from cold.
Create Space for Gloves, Scarves, Toques and Other Winter Accessories
Winter weather means it is time to start bundling up, and you know what that means; Mitts, scarves, toques, earmuffs, gloves and more. Help keep the winter accessories from taking over your entry or mud room by using baskets or other storage containers to corral them. If you can, assign one basket to each person so that they can easily find what they need when they head out the door. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make some extra room in your coat closet (if you have one) as winter coats are bulky and you have to take into consideration those pesky snow pants. If you can, move warmer weather jackets somewhere else until spring.
Place Extra Floor Mats if Possible
If you have the room, add an extra floor mat or two or a larger one to your entry ways. Boots, bulky winter coats and snow pants mean that sometimes we need a little more room to get our stuff off. Also, it helps keep those puddles from forming on the flooring. I recommend rubber mats if you live somewhere where you get a lot snow, just like with the trays mentioned above, it’s easier to give a mat a quick wipe than it is to mop the floor.
Set Out Throws or Spare Blankets for Getting Cozy
I love blankets! There is nothing better than curling up with a good book, a hot cup of tea and a cozy blanket to pass the time on a cold winter afternoon. I have enough throws to put one on the sofa, love seat, two arm chairs and my office chair. Usually most of them live in the linen closet for the spring and summer, but once the weather starts to cool down they start migrating down the stairs. I like having enough for everyone to grab one if they need one, including our guests.
Stock up on Warm Drinks
Winter is the only time of year I drink hot chocolate, it just doesn’t taste the same at any other time. So I make sure to stock up, not just on what I need for hot chocolate, but also different teas and ciders as well. That way there is always something warm and yummy for the boys to have after school and for when company comes calling, or just for the days where you feel the need for something warm to drink.
Replenish Cold and Flu Medicine
While I’m picking up teas and other hot drink ingredients I make sure to make a quick stop in the pharmacy aisle or at the whole food store to pick up some cough drops, vapor rub, and other cold and flu aides. I like being prepared so that I’m not rushing out to get something when someone is sick. I even try to keep a spare bottle of ginger-ale in the pantry, just in case.
Light Some Candles
Cold weather usually means most of us keep our windows closed up tight. After a while the air in the house can start feeling a little stale. Candles or diffusers are a nice, gentle way to freshen up the air. When it comes to candles, choose ones that are made from beeswax or that are soy based. Not only do they burn cleaner but the scents seems to last longer in them. I have soy candles from my wedding over four years ago that still smell just as yummy now as they did then!
If candles and air fresheners aren’t your thing, or even they are, consider opening a window just a little for an hour every few days to help bring in some much-needed fresh air.
There are many little personal touches and tasks that you can add to this list to get your home ready for winter. These are the ones I do every year to help make our home more cozy and cheery during these cold, and often dreary winter months. I feel like it’s important, not just for our budget, but also for our families well-being to take a weekend and whip through some of these. Sure there are a lot of little things on my list that I could probably do without, but when I put them all together our home becomes a cozy haven where we can escape the cold and ride out the season.
What are some things you do to get your home ready for winter? Are there certain things you have to pay closer attention to due to the area where you live?