Winterizing Your House for Colder Temperatures
As the mercury drops and the season turns colder, homeowners may be tempted to turn off their home heating systems if they’re not in use. After all, why would you need heat when there’s no one at home?
But it’s important to leave your heating system on while you are away during the winter months so that pipes don’t freeze.
Freezing is a problem because it can lead to cracked and broken pipes. Repairing the damage caused by freezing water lines can be costly, not to mention inconvenient.
The best way to avoid frozen pipes is to have a plan for winterizing your house before you leave on vacation along with all of the “what ifs” that could occur while you’re away. It’s also important that everyone in your household knows what they should do if something does go wrong while you are gone.
As an added bonus, some heating companies will give discounts on your energy bill if there was a sudden cold snap while you were out of town and someone had called them about an issue with your home heating system or furnace.
Here are some instructions from the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy on winterizing your house for colder temperatures:
- Locate or hire an experienced heating contractor to inspect and service your furnace. Repairing it now, before you turn it on for the season, can save you from having to repair costly repairs when you’re not expecting them during the winter months.
- Ask your HVAC professional about a programmable thermostat that will help ensure your home is uniformly heated without overworking your energy systems. These models are easy to use and install yourself.
- Turn down the heat in your home before turning off any lights or leaving for vacation so there’s no need to crank up the heat again once you return.
- Remove flammable decorations from fireplace hearths and do not use your fireplace while you are out of town.
- Inspect your home heating system before Winterizing it for the season. This will let you know if there is any damage that shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored. If you suspect something is wrong, call in a repair person to look things over before turning on your furnace again.
- Shut off electric baseboard heaters when no one is at home so they do not automatically turn on when the temperature drops outside. They should only be turned on manually with the flip of a switch or through an automatic timer.
- Close storm windows and doors tightly to keep cold air out of your house. These precautions helpline your home so it isn’t too cold inside.
- Make sure all outside faucets and pipes are turned off to prevent water from freezing up in them. A garden hose running through the exterior of your home. It is a good way to keep water turning as it freezes up outside. It’s also important that you shut down the main valve that feeds into the house, as well as any interior valves for exterior appliances such as sprinkler systems and heaters.
- Have working flashlights and batteries on hand so they can be used if there is an emergency during your absence. You should also have a list of contact numbers written down somewhere so everyone at home knows. Who they need to call, including poison control and fire department officials, if necessary.
- If you have a fireplace, stock up on dry firewood and kindling so you can start a fire. If your home becomes too cold. You should also have carbon monoxide detectors in case the heating system malfunctions and there is an issue with fumes.
- Make sure everyone living at home knows how to shut off water valves. Including all interior valves for sinks, showers, tubs and toilets as well as exterior faucets. Tell them to check any outdoor hoses they may use for watering plants or washing cars. During the winter months so they don’t freeze. They need to know where your main shutoff valve is located. Just in case something goes wrong while you are away.
- Stock up on emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, candles, an LED lantern and a portable radio. Other things you may want to consider having on hand included food and water (72 hours’ worth). First-aid supplies, blankets, an extra change of clothes for each family member. Copies of important documents such as birth certificates and insurance policies.
- Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees while you are away so pipes don’t freeze while Winterizing Your House. If the temperature outside falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Insulate water pipes in unheated areas that aren’t normally exposed to cold weather such as basements or crawl spaces. This will help prevent them from freezing if temperatures drop unexpectedly while you’re out of town.
Lastly, make sure your pets have access to fresh food and enough drinking water throughout the day. If they are going to be outside in below-freezing temperatures for any length of time. Pet’s coats need extra attention in the wintertime. Because of how much they are exposed to the elements while you go about your day living life. By following these simple steps, you will help keep them comfortable and happy all season long.