As fall temperatures continue to slide downward there’s no denying that winter draws near with every passing day.  While fall is still here it’s important to start preparing your home for winter.  The measures you take to winterize your home now will certainly pay off when the snow starts to hit the ground.

Here are some quick and easy tips that can help you get ready for the upcoming season:

  • Fix-up your furnace – Check your furnace well before you actually need to use it.  Turn your furnace on and make sure it’s functioning without any problems.  Change your filters once a month after you begin to run the heat regularly.  Or, switch to a more efficient permanent filter in order to reduce waste.  If your furnace check-up leaves you in need of an entirely new furnace – there are federal tax credits available for energy efficient upgrades.  Some tax credits expire at the end of 2010.  Be sure to consult your tax advisor before making upgrades to ensure that you are compliant with the tax credit guidelines.
  • Winterize your water lines – Drain all hoses and air conditioner pipes before freezing temperatures arrive.  Turn off and drain water from exterior water spigots and air conditioning water valves.  Taking some time to inspect water sources that will not be used in the winter can save you many headaches in the long run.  When water freezes it expands – which can lead to pipes bursting.  Replacing pipes can be costly, so it’s best to avoid this if possible.
  • Put up plastic – I remember living in rentals and being shocked at how much air came through the drafty, old windows in our house.  Window insulation kits are a great, low-cost way to save on your heating bills.  If the plastic is installed properly, it is virtually unnoticeable.
  • Check your ducts – A crucial component to retaining heated air in a home is a well-insulated duct system.  Inspect your ducts (either personally or by hiring a professional) for pinched pipes and gaps.  It’s also important to vacuum your ducts every few years to clean out dust, dirt and anything else that can collect over the years.
  • Clear your chimney – If you have a fireplace make sure you’re ready to snuggle up by the fire safely this winter.   Your chimney doesn’t need to be cleaned each year, but it definitely should be inspected prior to its first use every winter.  Purchasing a protective cap with a screen for your chimney will help keep out foreign objects and other things that can damage the structure of your chimney.

If you take the time to make sure these precautionary measures are followed before the cold weather hits, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy a peaceful winter hibernation.  You may also want to consider a home refinance in order to fund some of the larger investments that you may find a need for as a result of your winterizing preparations.  The money you save on your monthly mortgage payment can be put toward a new heating system, new windows or better home insulation.  Talk to a Home Loan Expert to discuss your options.

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