With the extreme snow and cold we've come to expect during Minnesota winters, our team shares their tips on what you can do as a homeowner to prepare your house for the worst winter weather conditions.
First on the list? Your thermostat.
To save money on energy bills, run your furnace for longer, steadier times. Avoid cranking your thermostat up or down to heat or cool your home faster. Think of it like getting optimal miles-per-gallon with your car. Cars get better mileage on the highway when they're at a constant speed, unlike side streets with lots of starts and stops. The same principle works for your thermostat. Pick a comfortable temperature setting and let it run; only change it when you'll be away from home for eight or more hours.
Always close the garage door.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it bears mentioning every year. By keeping your garage doors closed, you block out snow and cold winds. This not only helps keep your house and cars warmer, but you can also prevent frozen pipes if your water supply lines are located in your garage.
Take care of your water pipes.
Avoid the stress of burst pipes this winter. Open cabinet doors under sinks, and check on pipes connected to your washing machine in the laundry room. Insulating hot water pipes can help deliver warmer water with the added benefit of energy savings. Experts also recommend you allow your faucets to drip very slowly during extremely cold temperatures. Single control faucets should drip with the lever set in the middle.
Limit your natural gas usage.
Shorten your shower time to 15 minutes or less to help reduce your natural gas and water bill. Be sure to check the temperature setting on your water heater—it should be set at no higher than 120 degrees. And during your shower, don’t turn on the overhead vent if you have one. Let the steam build up so it stays warm in the bathroom after you turn off the water!
Another good tip? Clear snow and ice from around your natural gas meter. Accumulated snow can prevent the meter from operating properly by stopping the flow of natural gas.
Change out your air filter.
A clogged air filter can cause all sorts of headaches, like elevating heat bills, damaging the heater, and limiting air flow, which can create "cold spots" throughout your home. A clean air filter can make a big difference in the air flow and air quality in your home.
Take care of your furry friends.
Winterizing your home also includes winterizing your pets. Keep your pup's potty breaks short and never walk away when you let them outside (avoid off-leash time). You don't want to risk being distracted by another task and forgetting your animal outside. Check your pet's paws for cracks, bleeding, or signs of frost bite, which can happen in minutes for animals that are let outdoors.
- Stockpile nonperishable food and water
- Refill prescription medications in advance of a storm
- Keep your car filled with gas (or don't let it go below half a tank)
- Charge cell phones in case of emergencies or power outages
- Have flashlights, batteries, a weather radio, candles, and a manual can opener on hand
- Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and check that the batteries powering them are fresh
- Have a working fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies