As the Baby Boomer generation enters its golden years, Canada’s population is aging.
And more and more, older adults are foregoing moving to senior living or retirement communities. Instead, they’re opting to age in place in the homes that they’ve lived in for many years.
Successful aging in place, however, requires careful planning and preparation, and that includes properly winterizing your home’s exterior to cut down on heating costs and to prevent damage to your home from ice and snow.
Close and Seal Basement Doors:
If you have an exterior entrance to your basement, close and seal the doors as tightly as possible. This will prevent cold winter air from seeping in and forcing your home heating system to work that much harder to reduce the chill.
Weather sealant for your garage door can be purchased cheaply at a local hardware store and is easy to install.
Cut and Remove Dead Tree Limbs:
It may be challenging for some seniors to cut and remove tree limbs on their own, so hiring a professional to take care of this job could be the wisest investment you make to protect your home this winter.
That’s because when snow and ice accumulate on weakened branches, they’re more likely to break and fall on their own. For branches that hang over your home, this can be disastrous for both people and property.
Take Care of Hoses and Exterior Faucets:
It’s time to pack up the garden hose. Before temperatures drop below freezing, drain and store your garden hose. Draining any remaining water in the hose means there’s no water left to freeze and expand, potentially leading to cracks in the hose.
You should also drain and turn off exterior faucets, for the same reason. Do this by turning off your home’s interior valve for exterior faucets, if you have one, then drain the remaining water from the drain cap using a bucket.
Finally, turn off the exterior faucet. If your home doesn’t have an interior valve, you should ensure that your exterior faucets don’t have any slow drips, which can freeze and block the hose bib.
See if Your Power Company Offers Energy Conservation Help:
Energy costs can jump up quite a bit during winter months when we’re using indoor lighting more often and have the heat cranked up to stay warm and cozy. But don’t look at your utility company as the enemy.
Often, power companies offer programs to help their customers conserve energy and, in turn, save money. For example, British Columbia’s BC Hydro offers a free energy saving kit, which comes with directions on how to install each component.
The organization also provides free home energy assessments and free installation of products to help your home become more energy efficient. Check with your power company to see if any similar offers are made.
Clear Your Home’s Foundation:
Killing and removing any weeds that have grown around your home’s foundation may seem unnecessary, but overgrowth of weeds in this area allows water to build up around your foundation. When this water gets into even small cracks in your foundation and freezes, the expansion will widen those cracks and possibly create additional cracks.
When your foundation is surrounded by overgrowth, this plant matter prevents water from flowing and draining away from your foundation. Make it easy for water to follow its proper drainage path by clearing the weeds and plant matter growth around your foundation.
Handle Air Conditioning Units:
If your home has central air conditioning, you probably have an outside condensing unit. To protect the unit from the harsh winter elements, clear it of debris and cover the unit with a breathable, waterproof cover. Taking these steps before winter will extend the lifespan of the unit and enable it to operate more efficiently.
If you have window air conditioning units, the best way to winterize is to remove them in the fall. However, it’s not feasible for some seniors due to the physical challenges of installing and removing these heavy units.
If you can’t find an able-bodied family member or friend to help, the next best thing is to cover window air conditioning units with a tarp or specially designed cover to help prevent cold air from seeping through to the interior of your home.
Install Storm Doors and Windows:
Installing storm doors and windows is another winterization trick for your home that can reduce cold drafts in the winter. Storm doors and windows create a pocket of air between your usual windows and doors and the harsh outdoor temperatures, which can act as a thermal barrier to reduce energy loss and keep your home warmer inside.
Additionally, this added layer of protection between your home’s cozy interior and the cold winter air on the other side can reduce the likelihood that cold air will seep through as well as provide a buffer against strong winds and winter precipitation.
Some of these tasks you can complete with the help of family and friends. However, others are best done with the help of an experienced contractor.
A great way to find reliable help is to see how your local contractors are rated by the Better Business Bureau. As this listing for Duval Roofing, a contractor in Massachusetts, shows, BBB provides information about companies along with customer reviews so that you can find honest, affordable help.
Once you’ve tackled these steps, your home will be safe from the elements this winter and as an added bonus, your home’s energy efficiency will have improved. You can get cozy with the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll be saving money on home heating costs until temperatures warm up.
Author, Marie Villeza was inspired to start ElderImpact.org after she watched her son teach her father how to play Angry Birds™ on his smartphone. In that moment, she realized the importance of bringing the generations together so they can usher each other into the future, breaking down walls of fear and time. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking part in her monthly book club.