We are currently experiencing the first arctic blast of this winter. The lowest could hit 38 Fahrenheit (3 Celsius), almost freezing temperature. We get these blasts from time to time. I am grateful that we don’t have to deal with long and severe winters. However, because of that, we tend to forget to prepare for cold weather. And, sometimes, we end up suffering more than necessary.
So, what can we do to get ready for our winter and stay cozy and safe?
Here are easy ones you can do.
It’s a good idea to do 1, 2, and 3 together. I need a ladder to do any of them. You may as well, or at least a step ladder. So, why not do all at the same time? (1 and 2, twice a year, spring and fall. 3, once a year, in fall.)
1: Switch ceiling fan direction
Most ceiling fans have switches to change spin directions. During summer, you want your ceiling fans to push air down, so you feel cooler. During winter, you want to reverse the direction and set it on low speed. This pushes warm air, which naturally rises to the ceiling, down along the walls, and back to the floor. 1
In the Dallas area, floor heating or basement are rare, and most AC/heating registers are located in or close to the ceiling. So, without creating this airflow, hot air stays near the ceiling, making your head warm and your feet cold, not a very comfortable situation. Switching ceiling fan direction can ease that.
2: Change air filter
You probably do this regularly. What type of filters to use and how often to change depend on your system, situation, and preference. I feel comfortable using mid-grade filters and change twice a year. Maybe because I keep my house relatively clean, my filters get only slightly dirty after half a year of use.
However, I have been in some houses their filters caved in with build-up dust as thick as an inch. Changing filters is easy. Let’s do this to keep you, your family, and your system healthy.2
3: Change battery for smoke alarm:
It is not fun to be woken up by a chirping alarm at midnight, try to figure out which one, drag a ladder around up and down, change the battery or even replace the alarm itself…I used to do that. With eleven smoke alarms in my house, this got really annoying. It’s far better to test, change batteries or replace old alarms once a year and forget about it for the rest of the year.3, 4
4: Use smart thermostat or at least programmable, then figure out your default setting:
If you already use a smart thermostat, skip this section. If you still use a manual thermostat, replace it with at least a programmable one. Your program setting depends on your and your family’s lifestyle and preference. Because people have different comfort levels and some parts of the house might be warmer than others, you likely adjust the setting from time to time before finding your family’s default setting.
If you are not sure what to start with, the Department of Energy suggests setting 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.5
5: Remove hose from outdoor faucet, then place insulated cover:
Before freezing rain hits us, you want to remove a hose attached to an outdoor faucet, drain water out, and keep it in your garage, so, you can use it next spring. If you leave it out and water inside it freezes, you likely have to throw it away. 6 Insulated faucet covers you find at local hardware stores are cheap and easy to place on and remove from the faucet. For added protection, I stuff bubble wrap inside the cover before putting it on the faucet.
6: Add freeze (and rain) sensor to your sprinkler system or turn your sprinkler off before freezing weather hit:
You may have driven by an ice covered yard or two in the past. It may be amusing to look at. But, ice can damage trees, shrubs, and other plants. If you have a freeze (and rain) sensor with your sprinkler system, you can just let it do its job and forget about it. If you don’t, just remember to turn your sprinkler off before each freezing forecast.
7: Flush hot water heater:
I just had plumbers work on multiple things in my house, so I had them flush my 4-year-old hot water heater as well. They said discharged water was clean with little sediment. (Good!) He said I probably want to flush every three years or so in our area of Plano. I will do that myself next time as it should not be too difficult. (My HWH is in the garage.) How often you want to flush depends on the quality of water you get and how much hot water you use. Also, if you have an on-demand type water heater, you likely need to flush it more often than the tank type.7
8: Prevent critter from coming in and damaging your house:
As it gets colder outside, critters (squirrels, birds, even other rodents) may want to move into warmer spaces, such as attic, chimney, or even wall cavity. You want to walk around your house, look up and check roof returns, soffits, and fascias, and make sure there are no holes that allow these critters to get in. If you find holes, call a pest and critter control contractor to assess damages and place screens or other protections. 8
You may want to call professionals for more demanding work unless you can and want to do them yourself. Some of those are checking the heating system, caulking and repainting around windows and doors, cleaning fireplace or chimney, cleaning gutters, and trimming tree branches near your house.
WE CAN HELP
If you have questions about these DIY winter preparations or real estate in Dallas Northern Suburbs, contact us to schedule a free virtual consultation (phone or video). We hope you stay healthy and safe!