Holiday parties, cookie baking events and family gatherings usually pack the December schedule leading up to the big holidays. All these events leave homeowners frantically cleaning and prepping before the arrival of guests.
Beyond cleaning, though, there are many to-do items that homeowners should tick off their home-for-the-holidays list. When you’re preparing for holiday festivities—and the chill of winter—follow these 12 days of Christmas winter tips:
Have you turned down the temperature on your hot water heater this winter (or at all)? Don’t waste energy or leave guests prone to hot water burns! Check the temperature on your hot water heater and make sure it’s set for 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your house is decorated with lots of holiday lights, make it easier to turn them off every night by plugging them into a smart plug. The Internet of Things (or IoT) lets you control lights, appliances and other home fixtures from your phone or other mobile device. You’ll never forget to turn off those lights again!
Maybe it’s extremely cold in your area…or perhaps you have a mild winter. If you live somewhere in the country that’s prone to ice and snow, make sure you have plenty of gear to clean off your walkways and driveway. Shovels and salt (or other ice melt) are necessities to ensure that guests don’t slip and fall on your property. Snow blowers are handy, too, but they are more of a luxury.
During cold winters, heat can escape from your hot water pipes. Insulate those pipes so you don’t waste energy and that water stays hot without constantly needing effort from your hot water heater. Insulating is easy, but if you have a gas hot water heater, you may need to use different materials…and mind the flue. The U.S. Department of Energy has all the guidelines for safely insulating your pipes.
Lots of guests mean lots of body heat. Be sure to circulate the air by using a ceiling fan, which will save your HVAC from kicking on too often. Using the stove or oven also will heat up the home. Ceiling fans will move this heat around so that the toasty air is distributed evenly.
Everyone loves a toasty house, but stay away from space heaters. These can pose a fire risk!
Is your HVAC keeping you warm? Are there any issues? Have your HVAC serviced if you haven’t already done so. Or use the holiday break to schedule an appointment after the New Year. Scheduling yearly services will help catch any problems before they leave you shivering…and these appointments also help keep your HVAC unit in good condition.
Winter season means lots of heavy winter clothes for the family. This can lead to fuller loads of laundry and more time in the dryer. Your dryer also needs to be serviced at least yearly to ensure that the dryer vent is cleared of debris and lint. Dryer fires are all too common and regular maintenance of the vents is important. You should have your vents cleaned at least once a year, but many families need more frequent cleanings.
Heat can escape through your windows. During cold winters insulate those windows with a film that traps heat inside. Insulation kits are easy to use and fairly inexpensive; the money they save, though, can really add up over time.
Planning on using the wood fireplace during holiday gatherings? Fires are toasty and festive, but Consumer Reports reminds homeowners to have their flue and fireplace serviced each winter.
Consumer Reports also recommends that homeowners inspect trees for dead branches each winter. You don’t want a limb to be so brittle that it snaps and falls on a neighbor’s home…or on the neighbor. Dead trees are a liability. Cut dead branches.
Your attic could lead to cold air being trapped in the house and causing the HVAC to work overtime. Money Talks News advises homeowners to properly insulate the attic. This could be a DIY job (if you’re savvy) or just hire a professional. Regardless, insulating the top most room of the home will help save energy…and money!
Around the Home Tidings
The weeks leading up to the holidays also should lead homeowners to conduct a home energy audit. An audit will help spot energy drains and correct them, leading to savings and less energy consumption. Go around the home and inspect outlets for unused appliances and gadgets.
Power cords shouldn’t be overloaded, and they definitely should not be plugged into another power strip. This is called daisy chaining and could lead to a fire.
Look under sinks for pipe or valve leaks, too. Valves don’t always last forever, especially if you live in an area that has hard water. Be sure to check the pipe that leads to the hot water heater, too.
Make sure that every light fixture is lit with an LED bulb. Incandescent bulbs are hard to find now, but some homeowners might still have them around.
To make the home energy audit even easier, you can download the HomeSelfe app. This will allow you to go room by room and evaluate your energy use. The app also helps you find money-saving rebates in your area.
The holidays are a busy time for many homeowners. Between holiday shopping, cooking and running to events at school or work, many often have to find time to make sure their home is prepped for gatherings and the winter weather. Home energy audits can help homeowners discover energy waste in their home. The weeks leading up to the holidays can be a great time to schedule much needed home services for the HVAC, dryer vent or fireplace. This is also the time to make sure that you’re equipped with the tools you need to fight winter weather—shovels, ice melt and a snow blower. Don’t forget to cut down dead limbs, and, of course, just say “no” to space heaters.
You might not be able to check off every item from your home-for-the-holidays to-do list. But use this time to schedule maintenance appointments and to plan to make the changes needed to keep your home happy for the holidays.