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Steps to help reduce costs and protect your home this winter.

If you’re like many U.S. homeowners then you may be bracing yourself: Winter is coming. The season can have a negative impact on your home — and your budget.

Wintery weather can do more than delay your commute and turn your sidewalks into ice luges. Heavy snow and ice, strong winds and extreme cold spells may cause serious, and potentially expensive, damage to your home. To prevent issues and avoid costly repairs, consider these tips on protecting your home from the elements:

1. Inspect the roof, attic and basement: Inspect and seal any cracks in your attic. Adding insulation and sealing air leaks in your home can help you reduce your energy bill up to 10 percent annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star. Also remove debris from gutters and downspouts, and make any necessary roof repairs to reduce the risk of damage due to heavy snow or wind. Expect to spend $120 per 100 square feet for asphalt shingles and as much as $1,500 per 100 square feet for metal.

2. Protect the plumbing: Frozen pipes can be pricey — the average frozen pipe damage-related claim is $18,000, according to a five-year winter claim analysis by The Hartford. So take the appropriate measures to keep the water running. For example, on extremely cold days open cabinet doors to help warm up the pipes in the kitchen and bathroom, and keep a consistent home temperature, day and night. Also, when traveling for extended periods, be sure to turn off your main water valve.

3. Seal the windows and doors: You can avoid higher-than-necessary utility bills by sealing door cracks with caulk and weatherstripping windows. Using these tactics on an older or drafty house can save more than 20 percent on heating and cooling bills according to the U.S. Department of Energy. For a quick DIY fix, install self-adhesive plastic V-strips, which reduces air infiltration by 9 percent on average, and cost roughly $35 per window.

4. Check the chimney: Your chimney can be a significant cause of heat loss in your home. Remedy the situation with a chimney balloon (an inflatable chimney “plug” designed to stop drafts, odors, and small animals and bugs from entering your home), which generally costs about $55 per fireplace. Also consider hiring a professional to clean your chimney and confirm the damper is securely closed, which can help minimize air drafts.

5. Review the heating system: A dirty filter can reduce the efficiency of your heating system while increasing energy costs. The Boston Globe recommends changing the filters each year if your home has forced hot-air heating; also consider getting your furnace inspected by a professional to see if it needs any repairs. If you have a boiler, installing a $300-$400 reset heating control can help you save up to 10 percent in heating costs.

6. Consider insulation: Proper insulation can save money and make a home more comfortable throughout the winter. Older homes, which have less insulation than newer builds, can usually benefit from adding insulation where necessary, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Start by checking the walls and floors adjacent to any unheated spaces, such as a garage or a crawl space.

7. Inspect your home’s exterior: Remove any garden hoses and consider hiring someone to winterize your sprinkler system to avoid leaks and freezing, which should cost between $50 and $121.

Check back soon for more helpful homeowner tips and tricks.

 

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