How To Get Your Car And Home Ready For Winter

How To Get Your Car And Home Ready For Winter

When fall is quickly turning into winter, it's important to invest some time and money into winterization. Your home and vehicle are especially vulnerable to the effects of freezing weather, snow and ice. You need to know how to get your car and home ready for winter to keep your family safe during the cold and dark days ahead of you.

When you get your car and home ready for winter, you can look forward to a safer, less-stressful winter while also saving money and staying warm.

Get Your Car And Home Ready For Winter - Home Winterization home winterization illustration

The effects of the winter months can be costly to your home, especially if you live in a colder climate. You can suffer from an extremely high heating bill if you don't stay on top of your home winterization.

If you're prepared to get your car and home ready for winter, look to the following tips to keep your family warm and safe.

  • Eliminate drafts.

Drafts from doors and windows can waste 5 to 30% of your energy use, which leads to higher than average energy bills, putting stress on your wallet and your family. Find air leaks at the bottom of doors, and install weather stripping or use a draft snake. Draft snakes can be store-bought or handmade, like this one by Jillee of One Good Thing. For drafty windows, and sides of doors, use caulking to fill in the holes. You can find caulk guns and caulking tubes at any local hardware store.

  • Take care of your water heater.

The first step in winterizing your water heater is flushing it out. Debris and sediment build up in the bottom of your water heater throughout the year, so opening the drain valve and flushing the water removes the particles and increases the efficiency of the water heater. To save on energy costs during the winter, you should consider turning down the temperature of your water heater. Builders and technicians typically set them to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most homeowners don't require this elevated temperature.By reducing the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you can cut your water heating costs 6 to 10%.

  • Boost your insulation.

A lack of quality insulation is detrimental to your home. Inadequate insulation allows heat to leach through your walls to the outside, causing you to raise the thermostat and increase your monthly heating bill. Install higher quality insulation, and you can keep your thermostat lower. If you're worried about the costs involved, the federal government can reimburse you 10% of the cost of upgrading your insulation, up to $500. For low-income families who qualify, state governments provide up to $6,500 for weatherization through special programs. Contact your local energy agencies for more information.

  • Fix your windows.

According to ENERGY.GOV, you should ideally install energy-efficient windows throughout your home, but storm windows are a cheaper alternative that work along the same lines. Storm windows come in several varieties and are designed to reduce air movement through the window panes, thus containing the warm air inside the home. If replacing your old windows isn't an option, installing window insulation is the next best thing. If correctly installed, the plastic is virtually invisible and works wonders to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

Get Your Car And Home Ready For Winter - Vehicle Winterization

If you live in the wintery north, you probably think you're an old pro at winterization, but knowing how to get your car and home ready for winter is so important, it's good to run through a checklist before winter slams into you with a wall of snow. For everyone else, winter is more of an off and on sort of ordeal. One day is freezing, the next you're comfortable without a jacket. Winterizing your car outside of the north may seem like a waste of time to some, but it's still an essential part of preparing for the colder months.

To prepare your car for winter, run through some of these tips.

  • Don't forget your yearly inspection.

Even if it happens during the height of summer, an annual inspection is vital to the health and maintenance of your car. Have your inspector run full diagnostics, paying special attention to your brakes. Nothing's worse than sliding on black ice without a perfect braking system to catch you on the other side.

  • Install winter gear.

Replace your regular wiper blades with winter wipers. They are equipped with rubber that prevents ice from accumulating on them. They're heavier than regular wipers, so it's important to remove them in the Spring, or they'll run out the wiper motor faster. If you're in the north, you also want to install winter tires, and/or invest in snow chains for your tires. These provide better traction on snow and ice.

  • Keep up with your gas and fluids.

Try maintaining at least half a tank of gas. It helps prevent gas lines from freezing and can mean the difference

between life and death should you become stranded in the snow. The more gas you have, the longer you can keep the heater going stay in your car where you're safer. Your window washer fluid is also vital. You typically go through more during the winter, using it to keep the windshield clear of ice and snow. Keep it topped off, or at least half full, and you won't run the risk of running out when you need it most.

  • Prepare an emergency kit.Get car ready for winter infographic

You should have an emergency kit in your trunk at all times of the year, but it's especially crucial in the winter. Stock it full of emergency essentials including:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Shovel
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks
  • Warm clothing (jacket, hat, mittens)
  • Cat litter (useful in providing tire traction if you get stuck in the snow)

More info? For more information about car and home winterization, check out our other post: WINTER WEATHER TIPS: YOUR HOME & CAR SURVIVAL GUIDE

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