Now is the time to prepare for the cold and rain
Fall is the best time to begin winterizing your home, even for those of us who live in sunny Santa Barbara. Although U.S. News & World Report lists Santa Barbara as the best place in the U.S. to live for our good weather, there is still a lot of homeowners should do to prepare for the winter. As the cold, rainy season approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures and protect your investment.
Winterizing will make a big difference in how comfortable your home is this winter and could end up saving you money on energy bills, too because some of the work you do can actually mean tax credits.
The experts at EnergyStar, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, explain, “Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 which was signed in February 2018, a number of tax credits for residential energy efficiency that had expired at the end of 2016 were renewed.”
To see what tax credits California residents might be eligible for, check Dsire, the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. For instance, did you know that there are insulation programs that reimburse you for 100% of the cost, up to $1000 should you use highly efficient and/or updated insulation? That’s just one example.
To get you started on winterizing your Santa Barbara home, I’d like to share important info I found on the topic. Some of the intel is from Allen Roth HQ, a blog about home improvement indoor and outdoor.
14 Home Weatherproofing Projects to Tackle Now
- Clean gutters and downspouts in mid-fall and double-check them before winter. Gutters get clogged, even if you don't live on a wooded lot and don't have many leaves. The reason it is a good time to clean gutters now before winter arrives is that autumn leaves have collected and dam the water into place, so they need to be removed to allow for the water to cleanly flow through them.
- Replace the filter in your furnace and have a heating/cooling expert look at it if you’re unsure of its efficiency. Usually, these filters should be changed once a month. Unless you consider reducing waste and hassle by switching to a permanent filter. By making that change, you’ll only need to clean it once in a while. Experts say these permanent filters may make the air in your house cleaner.
- Close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather. Vents allow outside air to circulate in the summer months to prevent any moisture from building up that may bring mildew and rot. In winter, the air is drier, so close all your vents.
- Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and turn off the water. During the colder temperatures, water from your hose can freeze (occasionally even in Santa Barbara), which can result in cracked pipes. By removing your hoses, water won’t be able to get anywhere near your pipes. It is always a good idea to turn off the shut-off valve inside your home (if you have one) during the winter
- Check your insulation along the walls, along doors, inlets, fans, in the ceiling. See any holes? Fill them up. House tightness is key to preventing cold air drafts during the winter months.
- Turn down your water heater to 120F (or lower). Many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by manufacturers and installers. However, most households don't need that high temperature. You also need to flush your water heater through the drain valve to clear out particles and sediment that may have collected. And make sure to insulate your water heater to save money and the environment.
- Are your ignitors and electrical components in good working order? Are the orifices clean and sized properly? Are the tubes free of cracks, dust, dirt, debris, and anything that could present a fire hazard? Winter is the time to find out the answers to those questions and fix any problem.
- Check sensors and controls and make sure all are working properly. Experts suggest homeowners keep a four-degree difference between heating and cooling setpoints so that you don’t end up simultaneously trying to heat and cool the house.
- Keep extra water, canned food, and a disaster preparedness kit on hand. We don’t need a repeat of last year’s rain and mudslides but it’s better to be prepared just in case.
- Give your deck a fresh coat of sealer to protect it from the winter elements. Fibers can become brittle over the summer, causing premature breakage. When these fibers expand, water can seep inside and freeze, causing even more unnecessary damage.
- Look around doors and windows for gaps and potential places where warm air can escape. If you find any, fix them! Caulk or apply weather-stripping around problem draft areas.
- Have a contractor look for damaged roof shingles and loose gutters. Water damage can impact not only your roof but your home’s interior as well. It can be easily prevented by this important step.
- Have chimneys and woodstoves cleaned early in the season and make sure to test the flue in every fireplace, ensuring a tight seal when closed. You also need to inspect the mortar between bricks, tuckpoints, and firebricks. Whether you plan to use them or not, you need to make sure every fireplace is prepared for the season. And by all means, before you light your fireplace, have your chimney cleaned. Here’s a list of the best chimney sweeps in Santa Barbara.
- Weatherproof your windows. Of the many places in the home where heat can escape, and cold air can enter, windows are one of the biggest culprits. In older homes, especially, having weatherproof windows can make a marked difference in your energy costs and how comfortable your living areas feel. In some instances, you might only need s bit of caulk or weather-stripping to weatherproof windows, but if your windows are well past their prime, consider replacing them with energy-efficient double paned windows to create a more efficient space.
If you want to start winterizing your home in a new space in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, call me at 805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. I’m available to help home hunters find their dream home any time of the year.