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Winter can be a difficult time not only for you but for your home as well. Plunging temperatures, ice storms, and blizzards take a toll on both your home and your heating bill. So rather than waiting until the arrival of winter (and the sub-zero temperatures that accompany it) I suggest winter-proofing your home in the fall. Here are a few easy and simple things that you can do to prepare your home for the winter months and hopefully save some money on your energy bill:

Clean out your gutters

In the fall, leaves and debris build up in your gutters. While this does not pose an immediate problem, come spring thaw that build-up can cause a number of problems for your home. When your gutters are clogged, they block the drainage of melting snow and rain, which could potentially cause leaks and damages to your foundation and the area around your house. On the next sunny fall day, I suggest grabbing a ladder and ensuring that your gutters are clear and clog-free for winter.

Seal cracks and windows

Examine the interior and exterior of your home (particularly windows and doors) for areas where cold air could potentially enter. If you do find any cracks, purchase some caulking from your local hardware store to seal in these areas. This is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your house warm and heat bill down over the winter months.

Turn off outdoor water pipes

Now that gardening season is nearly over, turn off your outdoor water pipes. This will prevent water from freezing and cracking the pipes when the temperature drops below zero.

Prepare your fireplace (or block an unused one)

One of my favourite things to do in the winter months is to curl up by the fire. However, before you have your first fire of the season, there are a few precautions you should take. Use a flashlight to make sure there are no bird nests or build-ups within your fireplace, and you may want to consider having your chimney professionally cleaned if it has been awhile. Also, make sure that the flue is working properly, and don’t forget to stock up on firewood!

Trim nearby trees

Taking a day in the fall to pull out the ladder and trim tree branches that are close to your home can pay off big when the first winter storm hits. By trimming nearby tree branches, you are protecting your home from the potential damages caused by ice and snowstorms over the winter.

Stock up on winter necessities

Rather than running out to the hardware store in the midst of the first snowstorm, stock up on winter necessities now and be ahead of the game. If you don’t have a snow shovel or snow blower already, purchase one now and keep it in a handy area of your garage. It’s also a good idea to keep salt and gravel on hand in case your walkway or driveway becomes slippery during the season.

Program your thermostat

Instead of blaring your heat 24/7 when winter arrives, take a few moments to program your thermostat. Set your thermostat so that during the night when your family is sleeping the temperature drops, and then rises again in the morning when you are getting out of bed. Researchers have found that people tend to have a better nights sleep when the temperature is slightly cooler, and your wallet will be thanking you when your heating bill arrives.

Insulate your pipes

Insulating your water pipes can help prevent the pipes from freezing and protect your home during the next polar vortex. When a frozen pipe bursts it has the potential to flood your home and cause significant damage. To help prevent this, simply purchase some pipe insulation from your local hardware store and cover the pipes in the areas of your home that are not well heated (such as your attic, basement or crawl space).

Taking these simple precautions for yourself and your home can help you have an enjoyable and stress-free winter. Also, don’t forget to prepare for all the fun winter activities available in the Durham region. From snowshoeing and tobogganing to ice skating and skiing, there are many ways to get outside and remain active in the winter months. So bundle up and have fun!

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