For those who live in a nice warm climate that doesn't shift for the seasons, the coming of winter brings significantly fewer chores. However, those who live in changing climates can save some money by completing a few pre-winter chores.
Starting the winter with a clean furnace will save fuel costs during the cold months. Make an appointment now to have your furnace or oil burner serviced before it starts working overtime during the cold weather. A cleaner furnace can save up to 5% of fuel costs over the course of the year compared to a dirty one.
Get out the ladder and the washrag and clean your spot lights. If your home has outdoor lighting, it has dust and dirt on its light globes. Clean them off now before the winter weather comes and they'll burn brighter all winter long when the days are shorter and the nights seem darker.
Look over your home and make sure that cold air stays out and warm air stays in. Grab a tube of caulk as you take the walk and seal any openings around windows, doors, vents, and electrical wires. You'll also want to seal any openings to prevent mice from sneaking in to enjoy your warm winter air.
While walking around your home, tighten outside faucets and remove hoses. These could burst if the water in the pipe freezes. If possible, turn off the water to the faucet and let it open. That will guarantee that any remaining water drips out before the cold sets in.
During ice storms, branches are pulled down by the weight of the ice. Before the winter arrives check for any dangerously low branches. If it looks like it might fall onto a car or a structure, consider trimming it before the ice brings it down. If you'd rather leave the branches intact, then take note of them and when the ice does arrive make a trip outside to knock some of the weight off the branch.
Winter weather is hard on almost everything. If it fits in a shed or garage, then keep it there for the winter. If not, cover it with a tarp and tie it securely. Grills, patio chairs, and even garden statues can use protection from the ice and snow.
Plants are especially susceptible to the cold air that's anticipated. For newly planted shrubs, wrap them in burlap to protect them from the wind. If the wind really whips through a section of your property that has smaller plants, consider making a burlap windbreak by driving tall stakes into the ground and stapling burlap to each to make a "wall" in front of the plants.
When heavy ice, snow, or fallen branches come down, smaller plants are often crushed. Establish the location of these plants now and protect them from the onslaught. For a quick and efficient element of structural protection, try pushing a few tomato cages over tender plants. The cages will keep fallen branches off the plants, and they'll eliminate ice build up from pulling stems to dangerous angles. Use the cages that are coming off your tomatoes now and then redesignate them in the spring to their original use.
I'm in Chicago and am already dreading all the work to winterize the house and plants.
Great tips! We get a lot of ice and snow in our area so we also keep a generator ready to go. We start it several times a month to make sure it is ready to go when ice brings down power lines in our rural town. Plus we keep our supply shelves stocked. Nothing worse than going out in piercing cold shop. Brrr!
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