Warm up to winter with these homeowner tips
Fall in Edmonton can be a blink-and-you-miss-it season, but there’s still time to gather the family and spend a weekend getting your home ready for the
deep freeze ahead. Here are our top 10 tips for winterizing your home, inside and out.
Tune up for warmth: An annual furnace checkup is always a good idea. But if yours is on the newer side, you can take care of some minor maintenance
yourself. If the resident family pack rat has been storing treasures in the furnace room all summer, make sure nothing flammable has been placed too close to the furnace. Then, open the windows before running the furnace for the first time so that accumulated dust from vents can exit the house. Finally, replace the filter.
Turn it down: When the nights grow long and days are bone chilling, it’s tempting to set the thermostat high and leave it there. But programming your furnace a few degrees lower when you’re asleep or out of the house will save you significant money — up to 10 per cent or more — on your monthly heating bills and reduce household greenhouse gas emissions, too.
Snuggle up: Chances are your gas fireplace hasn’t been used for a few months, so now is the time to schedule an annual inspection. A professional will
make sure it’s running smoothly and efficiently before you snuggle up for the long months ahead. If yours is a wood fireplace, have the chimney cleaned.
Lighten up: Shorter daylight hours already getting you down? Bring the warmth and light of that precious winter sunshine inside by opening window
coverings during the day and conserve that heat by closing the blinds when the sun goes down. Turn on a few more lights, but remember to replace whatever traditional light bulbs you still have with efficient LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. Both far outlast incandescent bulbs and burn less energy. They may be costlier to purchase, but consider this: the average LED bulb will last more than 18 years and cost only about $1 per year to use.
Air out: The sizzling days of summer are a distant memory, so it’s time to give the central air conditioning a well-earned rest. Cut the power supply and shelter it from the harsh elements with a waterproof cover.
Give them shelter: Make room in the shed or garage for your patio furnishings and tuck them away to protect them from the harsh winter elements. If you have room, it’s also a great idea to put away your barbecue and firepit, or at the very least, protect them with a high-quality, weatherproof cover.
In the garden: Dig the remains of your annuals into the soil, or uproot and toss. Empty all plant pots of potting soil, clean and store. Mouldy leaves left on the grass can wreak havoc on the lawn during winter, so tackle with a leaf blower or a good, old-fashioned rake, but don’t just bag them up for
the garbage — you can add a good dose of shredded leaves to raised garden beds for the nutrients they’ll release until spring. And remember, fall isn’t just about watching your much-loved garden go dormant. It’s also the perfect time to plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths for some spring colour. A dizzying array of choices can be found at local garden centres this time of year.
Dry off: Now’s the time to empty rain barrels and make sure lids are securely in place. Drain your outdoor faucet, turn off the outdoor water supply and, if you have the storage space, remove your hose and put it away.
Climb on up: Haul out your ladder, designate a reliable spotter and give your eavestroughs some extra love. You’ll need to clear out any fallen leaves and make sure downspouts are free of clogs. While you’re up there, you may want to think about putting up your holiday lights, too!
The white stuff: Once the snow starts falling, look after yourself and your neighbours by following the City of Edmonton’s bylaws for timely snow removal. Clear snow from sidewalks and driveways once the snow stops falling and, during freeze-thaw cycles, take advantage of the free sand at
community leagues to de-ice walkways. And if you have the time and energy, consider being a Snow Angel and shovelling for a neighbour who could use the help.
Once your property is all set for winter, it’s time to have some fun with the season. Get creative in the front yard with lighting, evergreen displays and even snow or ice sculptures, and consider entering your garden in the city’s Front Yards in Bloom Winterscapes photo contest, which awards proud homeowners for beautifying their properties even in the coldest of months.
By Sasha Roeder Mah
Illustration Breanne Kelsey