Winter home improvement 101: Tips, tricks and how-tos
As plunging temperatures drive us all inside, you could just curl up by the fire with a nice mug of cocoa and wait out the winter. (And after the year we’ve all had, no one would blame you if you did). But winter also provides a great opportunity to tackle home improvement projects that can help you save some green and even increase the value of your property.
Seal up those costly drafts
If your energy bill has been creeping ever higher the last couple winters, you could be falling victim to a sneaky and unseen menace: air seepage. According to research done by the Environmental Protection Agency, sealing up leaks and adding insulation can save homeowners an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on total energy costs.
Normally you could contract someone to come to your home and conduct a home energy audit, but these days you might feel more comfortable doing it yourself. Thankfully, these online resources can show you how. The most common culprits are cracked or old sealant around doors and windows, which can be replaced fairly easily. For larger gaps in the foundation that might be causing drafts trying insulating spray foam, which is less messy to work with than caulk.
Give your HVAC some TLC
Your heating system is the true hero of winter, so make sure you do everything you can to keep it performing at its peak. Check on the water levels in your boiler to make sure they don’t fall too low, and check and change the heating system filters. Those filters need to be changed every three months, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and should be changed as often as once a month if you have pets, smoke, use a fireplace, or have someone in the household with allergies.
Splash some color on those walls
If you’re looking for a larger project that can both boost your home’s value and your moods, consider repainting one (or several rooms). Because professional painters have less demand in the winter, paint manufacturers can often offer better deals on their products from late fall through winter. Not only are paint materials cheaper in winter, paint will often dry faster since there’s less moisture and humidity in the air due to the cold. Just make sure to ventilate well by cracking open a window (which in turn will let in drafts we were supposed to be preventing…but only while you’re working).
Install a programmable thermostat
While these come standard for many newer homes, a programmable thermostat is a simple and high-impact improvement for DIY-ers. Once installed, these handy devices allow you to customize your heating system to keep you warm during daytime and lay more idle at night—which can save serious green. Many models now offer the ability to change temperatures remotely through a paired app.
Tend to those trees
Like painting, this one draws some of its advantages from timing. Because tree companies often get busy in the late spring and summer (when heavy summer storms force a lot of emergency tree removals), you could save money on your arborist by scheduling their services in February or March.
If you have a sick or troublesome tree on your property, then winter is a great time to schedule its removal (especially since winter storms and snow can bring down loose limbs). And if all your trees are in tip-top shape, winter is still a good time to have them trimmed and treated so they’re healthy for the spring.
While they require more effort than binge-streaming whole seasons of your favorite shows, spending the winter sprucing up your nest on these home improvement projects will help you enjoy a brighter and happier home when spring rolls around.