As cold weather approaches, there are things you can do around the house.
Protect Your Pipes:
Water expands as it freezes. If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand, too, which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it's a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather. Either way, a burst pipe can cause massive damage.
Pro Tip: Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water in case of an emergency. Typically it's located in the basement or buried near the road.
Check the Heat:
The time to be sure you're going to stay warm all winter is before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they're operating as they should.
Pro Tip: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Everybody thinks of using fans in the summer, but they can help you stay warm in winter too. Set the blades to turn clockwise to circulate warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney:
There's nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. But before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free.
A professional chimney sweep can clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Keep your home's warm air from escaping out the chimney when you're not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. You shouldn't be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.
You can also install glass fireplace doors or a chimney inflatable that blocks cold air from coming down the chimney and keeps in warm air.
Seal Windows and Doors:
Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Caulk around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs.
If your windows and doors are older, they may be inefficient single-pane windows or uninsulated doors. Consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows and insulated doors and garage doors to boost the energy efficiency of your home.
Another option is to add storm windows and doors. Remove, wash and store screens for the spring before you have them installed.