10 Tips for a Winter-Ready Home

By November 16, 2012Aging in Place
Kelley Richard of LivHOME

Winter is a time of holiday joy, beautiful snowflakes and roaring fires for many people. The cold weather can also bring along a number of tasks that must be completed in order to keep the house warm during the season. Following these 10 tips, seniors can rest assured their home will provide warmth and dependable shelter all season long.


1. Wrap up the water heater. In order to make sure the water heater does not lose unnecessary heat, wrap it with a water heater blanket. This will provide much needed insulation, ensuring hot water anytime it is needed.


2. Insulate the attic. For seniors who have an attic, insulation is one of the very first steps toward saving heat and money. It is recommended that everyone have at least 12 inches of insulation in the attic. Since hot air rises, proper amounts of insulation can prevent it from escaping outside, keeping much needed heat within the home.


3. Cut off outdoor water faucets. Since most seniors will not be using outdoor faucets during the winter, it is a good idea to cut off the water supply to them. This step will prevent the pipes from freezing or cracking.


4. Keep drapes or blinds open to let in sunlight. While it may seem like a small step to take, letting in sunlight can help to heat the home and keep the gas bill low.


5. Properly program the thermostat. An HVAC system with programmable thermostat will save seniors a lot of money when used properly. Set a minimum temperature of around 60 degrees, ensuring the home never gets too cold.


6. Consider times when the thermostat temperature can be lowered. Using the HVAC system less can save quite a bit of money for seniors. For instance, lowering the ambient temperature every time seniors leave home will decrease the HVAC workload and the gas bill each month. Never lower the temperature to a point where seniors are cold in their own homes, however. Saving money on gas is never worth a senior contracting pneumonia.


7. Utilize the ceiling fans. Seniors can make a huge difference in heat circulation by simply flipping the rotation direction of the ceiling fan. Hot air will rise toward the ceiling, then the ceiling fan will blow that hot air upward. This will push the hot air back down into the room.


8. Insulate drafty windows and doors. While it may not look like much insulation, window and door insulators are plastic sheets that go up and provide an extra layer of protection. If seniors have drafty windows or doors, precious heat continually leaks out of the home via these cracks. Insulators make it harder for that heat to escape.


9. Replace air filters. Since the HVAC system will run more during winter months, replacing the air filter helps to keep the system running at top performance. It also cleans the indoor air seniors breathe on a daily basis, making breathing problems less likely.


10. Be prepared to de-ice all necessary outdoor walkways. Seniors must be able to de-ice doorways, walkways and driveways. This can easily be a job done by another family member or loved one. If someone cannot make it over to help with the de-icing, seniors should always have a can of de-icer and a bag of salt on hand for emergencies.


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