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Buying and moving into a new home can feel like a roller coaster of emotions. One minute your jumping for joy when your offer is accepted, and the next minute you’re stressing out over the broken water heater. Becoming a homeowner is incredibly exciting but also comes with a whole new set of responsibilities.
When you first move in during the spring or summer, you may deal with a broken thermostat or a really dry lawn, but a whole new set of obstacles can hit you in the fall and winter. By preparing now, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, heartache, and well, tears. Read on to learn more about 7 tips to prepare for this upcoming winter in your new home.
1. Evaluate Your Home’s Heating System
While you may have had your HVAC system tested by a professional before you moved in, its always a good idea to identify what your home needs, if anything, in terms of heating. If you have a heating system, give it a test. If you rely on a woodstove for heat, make sure that you have plenty of dry wood stocked up. And if you have to rely on a portable heater, make sure that you purchase it before everyone else and their mother needs one at Target.
If you find yourself in the position of wanting (or needing) to establish a new heating system, consider looking into rocket mass heaters. They are a sustainable alternative that can save you hundreds in heating costs.
2. Establish An Emergency Preparedness Plan
As an apartment dweller or renter, chances are you didn’t have much of a disaster plan. Mainly because your landlord owns the property and not you. But as a homeowner all of the damage and responsibility falls to you and your insurance. Not to mention, a flooded or tornado-struck home can cause a huge amount of emotional exhaustion and stress.
Establishing an emergency preparedness plan ensures that you and your kids know exactly what to do if worst comes to worst. Establishing a meeting spot when an emergency occurs, packing a preparedness bag, and investing in a portable generator are just a few of the important details to think about.
3. Prep The Garden For Cold Weather
Whether you’re new to gardening or just new to gardening in this house, make sure to prepare your garden and yard for the weather ahead. I’ve seen it: new homeowners move in with a gorgeous spring garden, just for it to die in the winter because the new owners either weren’t gardeners or just simply didn’t know how to prepare for the cold.
Fall is a great time for weeding since your garden beds are pretty much empty and you won’t get totally exhausted in the heat of the summer sun. By picking out those pesky weeds now, you’re allowing your soil to save its nutrients for your spring fruits and vegetables rather than a field of ugliness. While you can always pick your weeds by hand, there are a few ways to get rid of them naturally that are bit faster.
You’ll also want to make sure that any plants or seeds your starting in the winter are covered with either portable cold frames or row covers. This, of course, depends on just how cold your climate gets, but many plants won’t survive a frost when left to their own devices and its better to be safe than sorry.
4. Make Sure Your Roof Is Ready For A Storm
When you’re dealing with heavy rains, a snowstorm, or whatever else winter decides to throw at you, you have to make sure your roof can handle a beating. Again, your roof was probably inspected before you moved in, but its always best to do a double check.
Make sure to take a trip up to the attic and check for any potential leaks. You’ll be able to see them a lot easier from under the roof rather than on top. Also, make sure to check for any broken or missing shingles, and any weird bends in your roof. If you see anything remotely similar to this, have an expert check it out. It’s a lot cheaper to have a professional assess the situation than to deal with leaks and roof damage.
5. Insulate Your Windows And Door Ways
While your windows let in cool, refreshing air on summer nights, those same windows let in freezing, bone-chilling cold air in the winter. If you live in an older house with less than perfect insulation, one of the best ways to trap that cold air is by installing some thick shades or window coverings. You’ll be surprised at just how much heat will stay in and how much cold air will stay out. It might even help you save a bit on that heating bill.
As for your doorways, make sure that any cracks are either sealed or closed off with either a leak draft stopper or if you’re especially classy, a rolled up beach towel.
6. Clean Out The Gutters (Or Pay Someone To)
Cleaning out the gutters is a quintessential fall task, and perhaps one that homeowner may despise the most. But it is more important than you may realize. Clogged gutters can lead to leaks or water damage in your home’s interior. If you really don’t like the idea of getting on a ladder and scooping wet leaves out of your gutters, there are plenty of companies offering to do just that.
7. Brighten Up Those Dark Spaces
If it was springtime when you first took a tour of your home, chances are any windows made all the rooms feel bright and airy. But as we settle into fall and winter and the days get shorter and more dreary, you may find yourself discovering some pretty dark spaces in your home.
Before you get a case of the winter blues, consider adding some functional lighting to your space. Brighten up those corners with standing or hanging lamps, and consider adding recessed lightening to your dark basement.
Alternatively, consider painting those especially dark rooms a lighter, brighter, and more inviting color. A deep beige color can feel especially dark in the dead of winter, so consider something more neutral. If you are really feeling like flexing those interior design muscles, check out these other decor ideas to brighten the room.
Leigha Staffenhagen is the managing editor of Insteading.com, a homesteading and sustainability site focusing on everything from gardening and raising chickens to tiny houses and off-grid living.