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5 Ways to Winterize Your House

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Being the proud owner of an Iowa home, I do look forward to the winter months. I love the cool temperatures and white fluffed snow. I actually enjoy shoveling snow, as long as it’s not two feet deep. What I do not like are the 30 MPH winds carrying temperatures from the North Pole, good gracious - it gets ridiculously cold here some times. This, in return, seemingly sucks the heat of your house and can cause a plethora of problems in return. So here are 5 easy tips to make sure your home is prepped for Ol’ Saint Nicks favorite time of the year:

  1. Manage your gutters and downspouts. I hate cleaning gutters as much as the next fella. It’s grimy, uncomfortable, and just plain crappy work. However, if gutters are left neglected you can run into very expensive repairs ranging from roof or gutter repair all the way down to foundation repairs. Taking a couple hours during late fall to clean your gutters and make sure your downspouts are at least 10 feet away from your foundation. This will save you many headaches and wallet-aches down the road.
  2. Shut off your outside water from the inside. First, drain all the hoses you have attached to a spicket and unhook them. Second turn the outside water supply off from the inside. These controls are usually in the basement near the ceiling where the spicket is located outdoors. Then, turn on the outdoor spicket and let any remaining water drain out. Water in your hoses and pipes can freeze and actually make your pipes burst. This is not good.
  3. Winterize your windows using a kit. Head to any of your local hardware stores and pick up a window kit. They normally run $5 - $10 and will cover five averaged size windows. The process is simple:  apply double sided tape around the window trim, stick plastic to the tape over the window, and finally use a blow dryer to seal the plastic tight. This alone will save you hundreds of dollars over winter, especially if you have drafty windows.
  4. Don’t forget about your outdoor power tools. A lawn mower to me is like newborn infant to their momma. I love my mower. I will nurture it, clean it, and prepare it for harsh times like the winter. As the years pass, my mower in return will rarely let me down and give a pristine cut week after week. If you don’t change the oil, change the air filter, sharpen the blades, stabilize or empty your tank, your mower will let you down.  Do the same for your weed eater. Also, make sure your snow blower is in fine running condition, has oil, and is filled with gas. Wouldn’t it just suck to wake up at 6 a.m. and run to the gas station and auto shop to get gas and oil?
  5. Contact your utilities provider for a free energy audit. Both Iowa and Illinois homes commonly use Mid-American Energy as their utilities provider. Contact them and request an energy audit. They will come inspect your house free of charge and will tell you how you can make your home more energy efficient.  They will even give you rebates on the improvements you make. Recently, I was approved for $1,400 in insulation rebates and received all new florescent lights as needed. Visit Mid-American Energy’s Efficiency for more information.
  6. *Bonus Tip - Get the sleds out and polished. After all your hard work, it’s time for fun.  Have the sleds, inner tubes, skis, and snow boards ready to go. Meet up with your kids, family, and friends to let the good times roll. I cannot wait to Clark Griswold down a hill and take a 3 foot ramp with a sled. Just be careful of your tailbone.
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