Winterize your home and garden early

As a first step, homeowners should make sure that all windows and doors are sealed.
Wednesday, October 8, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:29 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Although warm weather has not fully turned its back on Missouri, now is the ideal time to prepare your home for the cold months ahead.

Performing some simple and quick chores inside and outside the house might save you a lot of money, time and discomfort later.

As a first step, homeowners should make sure that all windows and doors are sealed, said Jason Sergent, a salesman at Westlake Ace Hardware in Columbia. The caulk around the doors and windows should not crack or peel away — if it does, it will allow your home’s heat to escape, and your energy costs can rise.

“If you add up all of the cracks, crevices and gaps into your home, it would be like having a window open all year long,” explained Chris Rohlfinger, an electrician at Boone Electric Cooperative.

The next step is to examine the pipes to make sure they are insulated so they do not freeze in winter. Also, Sergent warns, something many people forget is to keep their air conditioner from being exposed to cold weather. When kept in a constant climate, an air conditioner is more likely to work when the weather gets warm again.

But there are certainly a few more things to take care of – things that, “90 percent of people can easily do,” Rohlfinger said.

For example, homeowners should check their furnace.

“The filter has to be clean. I would change it every 30 days,” he said.

Next, the thermostat needs to be inspected.

“Every time you turn it one degree higher, your energy costs will rise by 3.1 percent,” said Rohlfinger.

Another step, as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry suggests, would be to clean the chimney, especially those that haven’t been used for a while. Animals might have nested in it, and debris could clog the flow of smoke. For this reason, some people are installing screens over their chimney openings.

Homeowners will also want to check their gutters. In the fall, leaves can impede the passage of rainwater. If the temperature drops below freezing, standing water freezes, and this can cause the gutters to expand and crack.

Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Check to see if the batteries are fully charged. If the alarms or detectors emit a light to signal they are working, make sure the light is on.

“Most of the chores to prepare your house for the winter are easy and can be done by every handyman,” Rohlfinger said.

However, for those who don’t have the time or the expertise, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. The extra expense might be worth it when winter does arrive.

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