1. Weatherproof the house - Locate and seal cracks and spaces that let heat out and cold air in—along baseboards, wall/ceiling junctures, windows, and doors, lighting fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets. Your wallet will thank you because energy savings from reducing drafts range from 5% to 30% per year. For tips on doing an energy audit on your home go to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Tip: At night, ask a partner to walk outside while you turn off all lights and shine a flashlight along doors and windows (tell the neighbors not to call the police). The light will illuminate large cracks. Small ones won’t likely show up, however. For those, light a candle or incense stick and pass it along potential leak areas. If the flame or smoke wavers, you’ve got a leak.
A home audit that finds all the nooks and crannies where energy escapes costs $375 on average. Painters ($25 to $100 an hour) will seal gaps with caulk. Handymen ($30 to $50 an hour) can install weatherstripping.
2. Check fire alarms - Dead batteries cause 24% of smoke alarm failures, putting your family at greater risk of a fire. You should replace batteries or test hard-wired fire alarms twice a year. You knew this, right? Fine, we don’t mind reminding you.Check those batteries for safety, and to stop the beeping.
Tip: Don’t remember when you tested your detector last? Get into the habit of testing the alarm and changing batteries on a specific date like the start of the new year.
So, are you prepared for winter after checking off this list? Anything else you'd like to suggest?