Wondering when the best time of year is to break out your big home improvement projects? You may be surprised to find that winter is actually a great time to enhance your property. So if you were hoping to just hibernate in your home this winter, dust off that dream project to-do list instead and start planning which tasks you’ll tackle to add value to your home this season.
- Build an addition: For those living in snowy states, the thought of working outdoors in winter is already freezing your ambition. Yet this is actually a great season for building an addition. With no need to worry about muddy ground and humidity, the frozen ground and dry air offer favorable conditions for digging new foundations and pouring concrete. The timeline for additions also won’t be interrupted by rain days that halt building during the unpredictable spring months.
- Clean the gutters: Winter is also ideal for cleaning your gutters. Beat the spring cleaning rush by clearing out your gutters earlier in the winter season so that melting snow and ice can flow freely. Frozen gutters and burst pipes account for billions of dollars in insured losses every winter, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
- Prune your trees: Although you might shed a tear when that last leaf falls, barren branches make work much easier for pruners, who often charge by the hour. Fewer leaves mean less debris to haul away as well as an unobstructed view of branches that need to be removed.
If you’re still not convinced you should work outside with Jack Frost, there are still several indoor winter improvements that will save you money both now and for the rest of the season:
- Get an energy audit: A good place to begin your indoor renovations is with an energy audit by a Building Performance Institute-certified energy rater that will test your home for energy losses and generate a detailed report, helping you target the project areas that will have the biggest impact on maximizing efficiency.
- Seal those walls: High-quality caulk can help prevent drafts and regulate fluctuations in your home’s internal temperature. Be sure to check for holes hiding behind the faceplates of plugs and switches. Nooks and crannies aren’t safe from cold winter air until securely sealed with expanding foam. Carefully inspect air vents and plumbing as well as crawlspaces and wherever you see even the smallest sliver of daylight sneaking through.
- Tune up your heating system: Heating accounts for about 30% of a home’s energy costs. Before you fire up your furnace, be sure to replace the filter, and you’ll likely have to replace it again every two to three months while running the furnace. And while a tune-up can be costly, it helps prevent carbon monoxide leaks and maintain a healthy level of air quality, and it ensures maximum operating efficiency.
- Add air conditioning: Worrying about cooling your house right now may seem counterintuitive, but if you’ve already been planning to install or upgrade your air conditioning system, the off-season usually offers better prices and allows for more negotiation with contractors.
- Replace windows: Windows can now be installed throughout the year, and investing in double- or even triple-paned insulated glass could improve the comfort of your home and help your budget during the winter months.
- Install a smart thermostat: Although they can be pricey, “smart” thermostats that learn usually pay for themselves in ease and energy efficiency. The Nest Learning Thermostat’s creators claim that their product saved users an average of 10% to 12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.
According to home staging expert Ronique Gibson from About Home, business for professional contractors is slower during the winter. This means off-peak rates and more opportunity to negotiate. April through June is actually the busiest time for builders, so you’ll likely find yourself paying the most money for contractors’ time and materials at that time. Perks to going the professional contractor route include getting skilled advice on project timelines and costs as well as which projects will yield the highest return on investment.
Although spring and fall are popular seasons for remodeling (especially outdoors), winter does have its benefits for homeowners looking to save money and time in the off-season as well as better protect their home against the weather. So if you find yourself reluctant to dip your toes in the next project that could add value to your home, Rick Thomas of Thomas Custom Builders reminds us that when thinking of remodeling, “Any time is the right time, as long as you’re ready to do it.”
Get off the couch and get rid of winter blues today with these six simple winter improvement projects for your home.
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