Some homeowners believe that home improvement projects are only to be undertaken during the spring, summer, or fall. But in reality, you can tackle some of them during the winter months (even tasks you should have done during autumn but neglected to). Here are five such projects which may be appropriate for wintertime.
1. Tend to your gutters and roof
It may not be too late to take steps to prevent ice dams and heavy snow loads on your roofs and in your gutters — even if you’ve already had snow. If you can find time on a day where there isn’t much (or any) snow or ice accumulation on your roof, you can install a heated cable system under the first few rows of your shingles. These electric-powered cables will help melt ice or snow to hinder dams or snowpack from forming. In addition to (or instead of) cables, you can mount gutter guards atop your gutters to prevent debris from clogging them up and contributing to ice dams.
2. Insulate or fix plumbing and pipes
Make sure that all exterior pipes and spigots on your home are wrapped thoroughly with foam insulation whenever temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. If you don’t plan on using any of these exterior spigots, go ahead and shut off the water valves that feed them. Don’t forget your interior pipes; exposed metal and copper in basements, attics, and crawl spaces may get cold enough to freeze up. The last thing you need during the winter months is water leakage or flooding caused by burst pipes.
3. Seal up openings
There are dozens of potential areas in your home where cold air can seep in and warm air can leak out. To keep this from happening, start by sealing seams around windows and doors with caulk, waterproof sealant, or weatherstripping. (If you have any old windows that are constantly leaking, consider replacing them with units that are more energy-efficient.) Then inspect places where pipes enter and exit your home and seal those areas up as well. While you’ll want to maintain some ventilation during the winter months, you should still seal any openings around the vents themselves. Finally, make sure air isn’t leaking through the cracks around your interior and exterior light fixtures.
4. Insulate attics and crawl spaces
While it’s technically possible to have “too much” insulation, very few homeowners do — and most of them don’t have nearly enough. To prevent warm air escaping through your ceilings, make sure your entire attic is protected by at least 16 inches of R-49 insulation. Do the same for little-used crawl spaces and basement ceilings as well. Heating or air conditioning ducts can be sealed with metallic foil or duct tape, and you may want to consider building a customized foam box to insulate your pull-down attic stairs.
5. Put in a programmable thermostat
Wouldn’t it be great if your heater can vary the warmth in your house depending on whether or not you’re at home? It can do just that … if you have installed a programmable thermostat. It’s a simple do-it-yourself project that doesn’t cost very much to complete, and the thermostat often pays for itself in energy savings during a single winter season. Once installed, program the thermostat to call for more heat during the morning and evening, and less heat when you’re away at work or school. Some models even let you control these thermostats from your tablet computer or smartphone.