With average winter temperatures in Austin sitting around 17°F, for the most part, preparing for winter is about rotating all of the shorts and tank tops to the back of your closet and bringing all the cozy sweaters and heavy scarves to the front. But once that winter chill sets in, there's no doubt you'll have to do a few things around your Austin home to beat the cold.
Here are four ways to winterize your Austin home:
1. Keep Your Windows Airtight
Drafty windows are a quick and easy way to lose hot air. Especially if your Austin home features plenty of big single-pane picture windows, you can expect to lose a lot of heat to these uninsulated spots in your home.
Fortunately, there are lots of solutions. If you place your hand on the window sill and can feel cool air seeping past your fingers, you know the seal isn't tight. Luckily, this is one of the easiest and more affordable problems to solve. You can purchase weather stripping or window seals. These are easy to install and block the gaps where cold air is sneaking through. You can do this to leaky doors too.
If find yourself perpetually cold in the winter, you may want to consider double-paned windows. The air between the two sheets of glass provides a natural insulator to keep you cozy in the winter without increasing your heating bill. The initial cost of the windows can be a bit more expensive, but, in the long term, they'll add value to your home and are well worth the investment.
2. Clean Your Heat Source
A clean heater is an efficient heater. So, it's important to keep your heat source in tip-top shape.
If you have a fireplace, that might mean cleaning the chimney. The National Fire Protection Association recommends chimneys be cleaned at least once a year. Excessive ash buildup can lead to chimney fires, which are not only incredibly damaging, but incredibly dangerous. You'll also want to confirm your air intake point is clear. With proper access to oxygen, your flames should burn hotter.
If you have electric heating, it might be as simple as giving the baseboards a good dusting so you can avoid the smell of a summer's worth of dust burning off the top. Likewise, if you have a furnace, changing the filter is a good place to start. A clean filter means that hot air can exit the furnace uninhibited which means it will be more efficient. You can also expect to see your air quality improve as the filter picks up any dust, dander, or air pollution in your home.
3. Keep Gutters Clutter Free
If you have a beautiful deciduous tree in your front lawn, you may have noticed that all of those leaves have sprinkled down through the branches and into your gutters. Winter in Austin means rain, so functioning gutters are key. Backed up gutters mean that water can't drain off of your roof properly. Best case scenario, water pours over the edge of your gutter and drowns whatever foliage is directly underneath. That leaves a ring of water damaged plant life around your house. The worst case scenario is that too much water stays on the roof, resulting in damage to the integrity of your roof which can be a pricey repair later.
One small perk of winter setting in is that you may not need to mow your lawn anymore. However, not every plant goes dormant in the colder winter months. In fact, fall can be a perfect time to plant large trees such as alders, ash, elm, maples or deciduous shrubs. Planting in the fall ensures that these plants have ample time to develop their root systems before spring arrives and it's time for them to shoot out buds and blooms. A mature root base means that the rest of the tree has access to a larger quantity of water, meaning an overall healthier plant.
While you're outside planting shrubs and trees, it may also be a good time to pack up the patio furniture. Especially if you have those lovely fabric cushions that are so comfortable for lounging on in the summer, it's a good idea to get them safely tucked away in storage before the rains come in full force.
So, if you're new to Austin, and this will be your first winter, you can pack your snow shovels away with relief, but don't write off prepping for winter altogether. Your wallet will thank you for taking the time to make your house more heat efficient now, so later you can spend less on heating and more on the things that matter to you later.
For more helpful home improvement tips and to learn more about Greater Austin real estate, contact JBGoodwin REALTORS®. For over forty years, we've been providing clients with top-notch service.