6 Steps to Winterize Your Home Now

With a weekend's worth of work, just about anyone can take the steps necessary to keep their home protected.

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"Winterizing" might sound like a costly and intimidating process, but it's far cheaper and easier than the alternative: undergoing a wintry emergency nightmare because your home was not properly prepared. With a weekend's worth of work, just about anyone can take the steps necessary to keep their home protected from Old Man Winter. The following is a checklist for what homeowners ought to be doing when prepping for the cold season. Stick to it, and you're sure to have a warmer and more relaxed winter experience (scraping and digging out your car notwithstanding).

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Reverse ceiling fan rotation. One incredibly useful tip for better setting up your home for winter is to reverse the rotation of your fans. During the summer, a counter-clockwise fan motion results in cooler air being pushed down into the home, as a result of the way the blades are angled. During the winter, you can switch this up so that warmer air is channeled downward instead. This puts otherwise stagnant fans to some good use.

Inspect your furnace. Firing up the furnace in fall before the dead of winter hits is the best way to avoid having your heat go out when you really need it. Check for rough sounds and a lingering foul smell (a brief bad odor when you first turn your furnace on is normal.) You do not want to experience a weekend where the house is unable to be heated. Make sure you sort problems out when the weather is still decent.

Insulate water pipes. Through either traditional fiberglass insulation and other heat-retaining material, or through wired electric warming wraps, it's essential that you make sure all piping you have access to that runs through unheated portions of the house is properly kept bundled up. Take this time to make sure you know exactly where the turn-off valve is for your water main in case you must take all necessary precautions before a blizzard blows through.

[See 5 Tips to Stage Your Home for the Fall Season.]

Seal cracks in windows, doors, and ducts. Wait for a particularly chilly autumn day and walk around inspecting for drafts. Seal cracks in doors with either insulation material manufactured for that purpose, or through some do-it-yourself means of keeping the cold air out. Install your storm windows or cover your panes in thin plastic insulation material available at major home improvement centers. Next, inspect ventilation ducts for cracks and separations, as vast amounts of heating can escape through poorly fitted duct work.

Store summer tools and prep winter ones. The lawnmower becomes just another backyard ornament in the summertime when it's being used every other week. Along with other warm weather equipment, lawnmowers can easily be left out to be exposed to the elements for the duration of winter. This can cause serious damage to the motor. Not only is it important to store such equipment, it's also vital that you drain the fuel if it's going to be stored in an unheated garage. This is also a good time to make sure your snow shovels, snow blower, and other winter equipment are in working condition.

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Stock up on supplies The best thing you can do for your home as you prepare for winter is to waste no time stockpiling snow salt, emergency supplies, and even investing in a gas-powered generator if you live in a remote or sparsely populated area. You don't want to be one of those people scrambling to find a bag of salt on the eve of the first blizzard of the season. Such a proactive policy now is certain to spare you some stress in the future.

As a homeowner, there is probably no other asset as precious to you and your family than the residence you live in. Just like you wouldn't send your kid to school without a coat on, you certainly wouldn't leave your home dangerously exposed to low temperatures, sleet, and snow.

With those tips, you might be able to save a little bit of money too. Just be sure to put it into a high yield savings account to get even a little more extra.

Jim Wang writes about personal finance at Bargaineering.com. When he's not tackling money issues, he's usually looking forward to his next vacation and writing about it at Wanderlust Journey.