Before you know it, the Appalachian mountains will shed their vibrant leaves of autumn and signal the beginning of winter. Cold weather and snow definitely means hot cocoa and cider, but it can mean a skyrocketing heat bill and hidden water damage for homeowners.

Here are 9 quick and easy tips that can help you save money and protect your home for winter.

1. Insulate Your Water Heater and Pipes

Keeping your water heater hot can be a challenge as the temperature drops. Thankfully, there are two cheap DIY solutions to keep your bills from skyrocketing.

  • If your water heater is exposed to cold or is not pre-insulated (consult your owners manual first to see if this practice is safe for your unit), you can wrap insulation around your water heater to keep cold air at bay. Do not cover burner access on propane or gas heaters.
  • Cover exposed hot water pipes with snap-on foam sleeves. You can find these at your local hardware store, just make sure you bring your measurements with you.

Bonus: You can lower your hot water temperature during the winter. Lowering it by 10-20 degrees (stay at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit) will still provide water hot enough to wash dishes and take showers while saving you some extra cash.

2. Install Door Sweeps

Door sweeps are strips of flexible plastic that adhere to the bottom of your doorframe and prevent unwanted cold air from seeping into your house. They are available at most home appliance stores and online.

3. Weatherstrip to Plug Household Drafts

Grab a candle, pencil, notebook, and some caulk/sealer and start examining your home for small drafts that are letting in cold air. Check areas like your garage, windows, attic, siding, and vents. Hold a lit candle to the area (be careful not to burn yourself or any household items) and take note if the flame is affected by any leaking air. Weatherstripping can reduce drafts from windows. You may need to call a professional for large drafts or hard to reach areas.

4. Reverse Ceiling Fans

Fans can run clockwise or counter-clockwise. Setting a fan to rotate clockwise at a slow speed for the winter will pull cold air up and push rising hot air back to the ground. This can be controlled by manually flipping a switch at the base of a fan or, in some cases, with a remote.

MMB: Protection for Your Personal Assets

5. Clean Your Gutters

Clogged gutters will retain water for a long time. This can quickly turn into a big problem when the temperature drops below freezing. Gutters can freeze and block water that can seep into your house. In severe cases, clogged gutters can become too heavy and break. Cleaning out your gutters regularly will prevent unnecessary damage to your home.

6. Prevent Ice Dams

During the winter months, heat can escape your house and melt snow on your roof. Sometimes the melted snow refreezes and causes ice dams that can leak water into your home and weaken your roof. Check your roof while cleaning out your gutters, and have a professional regularly check your roof to prevent severe water damage.

7. Stop Frozen Pipes!

To prevent frozen pipes, cut off water to exterior faucets that are not in use during the winter. For inside pipes make sure you leave your faucet dripping as the temperature drops to freezing, even if you are leaving your home.

8. Trim Nearby Trees

Midway into winter, the trees and shrubs around your house will become dormant and lose their leaves. If snow accumulates on the branches, the weight can cause the tree to fall, possibly damaging your home. To help keep your trees alive and your home protected, trim any branches that could fall or make contact with your house while they are dormant.

9. Clean Out Your Chimney

Annually cleaning the ash and residue out of your chimney can prevent unwanted fires and carbon monoxide poisonings.

If you have questions about protecting your home from water or fire damage, contact McInturff, Milligan & Brooks via the form below or at (423) 639-5171. We can help you figure out what is best for you.

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