Tips for preparing your home for winter

By Tyrone Adams

Special to The PREVIEW

Question: What should I be doing now to prepare my house for winter?

Answer: Historically, the first frost in Colorado comes by mid-September. And the first hard freeze typically arrives in early October. Now is the right time to take some simple steps to get rid of wild animals when they enter your place due to cold weather outside, to make your home safe, comfortable and energy conserving during the cold months ahead.

1. Insulate — Heating your home can be expensive. By improving the home’s insulation and making sure windows and doors are sealed properly, you can save money and energy. Since heat rises, start in your attic to see if more insulation would help keep the home warmer at lower costs. You may want to consider replacing older windows with energy-efficient versions available today.

All windows and doors need to be sealed around the edges to prevent cold air from entering and warmer air from escaping. You can check if air is leaking around doors and windows by loosely holding a tissue up to the edges and checking for air movement.

2. Upgrade thermostats — Consider installing a set-back thermostat for each heating zone, which makes it easy to have your home’s heating system come on automatically and only when you need it.

3. Test your furnace — Turn your furnace or boiler on now and run it for a while to make sure that it’s working properly. Boiler systems, which circulate heated water, are subject to leaks. Having your heating system professionally examined and tested annually is a good idea both for efficiency and safety.

4. Change air filters — If your heating system uses an air filter, it should be changed at the start of the season and checked monthly during the cold months. A dirty filter restricts air flow and is potentially a fire hazard in the worst case. Having the heating ducts inspected and cleaned every few years will help improve air flow and may also help improve the air quality.

5. Install CO detectors — Today, having carbon monoxide detectors in your home, near the furnace and near bedrooms, is essential. These inexpensive devices, which look like a smoke detector, will warn you if dangerous and often odorless fumes are escaping from your furnace.

6. Wrap water heaters and pipes — Consider adding insulated wrap around the hot water heater in your home and enjoy additional energy savings. If you have exposed water pipes close to outside walls, you may want to wrap them to protect them from freezing. Most of these insulation products are available at your local home improvement store.

7. Disconnect — Don’t forget to disconnect your garden hoses and turn off and drain sprinkler systems to prevent damage from freezing.

8. Safety issues — Finally, as you winterize, consider things you should be doing for winter safety. Make sure that your gutters are cleaned out so that you don’t have ice dams in the gutters leading to dangerous icicles and ice on your sidewalks. Locate your shovels and other snow removal equipment because, if history is a good teacher, you can expect to be using those soon.

The Home Connection is brought to you by the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit