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The holiday season can be a busy time and fly by so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to plan for the winter months ahead. If you forgot to prep your house for winter, don’t fret. Here are ten last-minute tips, from installing a mini split system to adding sweeps to your doors, to help prepare your home for winter so you can stay warm and cozy all season long.

1. Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

If you aren’t at your house all day, having a programmable thermostat can help you control the temperature and your heating bill. Because temperatures can fluctuate dramatically throughout the winter and even throughout the day, using a smart thermostat is a prudent home energy solution.

These connected thermostats enable you to program temperature settings based on your schedule, weather, and preferred comfort levels so you can adjust them as needed. For instance, if you don’t work at home, you can set your thermostat to a lower temperature while you’re away and set it for a higher temperature when you get home, so you come home to a toasty house.

2. Check For and Fill Air Leaks

While we can’t control the weather, we can prepare for it. One of the best ways to protect your home for the cold season is to weatherize it. A weatherproofed home can help you combat drafty rooms and cold floors and stop your furnace or heating units from working overtime and driving up your heating bill. If you already know where drafty areas are in your home, you can use caulk and weatherstripping, such as foam tape, around your home’s windows, doors, and other openings to reduce air leaks and keep the cold out.

If you aren’t sure where cold air may be getting in, you can hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy audit and blower door test to reveal less obvious leaks in your home and help you determine where you can add insulation to prevent heat loss.

3. Seal Off the Attic

Because heat rises, one of the first places in your home you should air seal is your attic. If your house has drafty rooms, uneven temperature between rooms, high heating bills, or ice dams in the winter, your home likely would benefit from attic air sealing.

By sealing off your attic, you can stop cold air from coming in and prevent warm air from escaping, and help maintain a more consistent and comfortable temperature throughout your home. Plus, you can enjoy significant savings on your utility bill. If you can’t get a professional out to do it, you can DIY with the proper safety equipment, materials, and tools.

4. Install a Door Sweep

If you or your housemates go in and out frequently, installing a sweep at the bottom of your door can make a significant difference in keeping unwanted cold air out. A door sweep is a particular type of weatherstripping attached to doors to seal gaps between the door and frame. Alternatively, a double-sided door stopper can help insulate individual rooms in your home, and one with a waterproof cover can be used for your home entrances and exits.

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5. Get a Mini Split System for the Coldest Rooms

Mini-split systems are efficient heating and cooling solutions that can help you stay comfortable even in the cold months. Because mini splits are ductless heating and cooling systems, they are more efficient than central heating and cooling units that lose energy through the ductwork.

If you have rooms without existing ductwork or particular areas of the house you want to keep warm, a mini-split can help you efficiently warm a room up to 1,300 sq. ft. while ensuring optimal comfort. You can find the right-sized mini-split for your home through trusted providers of ductless heating and cooling systems.

6. Reverse Ceiling Fans

While you may think ceiling fans are only to help cool a room, reversing the motor and running a ceiling fan in the clockwise direction at a low speed can create a warming effect. By operating your ceiling fans in this direction, the fans produce an updraft that gently forces warmer air near the ceiling down.

7. Warm Your House with the Sun

Another easy last-minute tip for preparing your home for winter is to take advantage of the sun to help warm your house. If you have rooms that receive direct sunlight in the winter, keep your window coverings open during the day to allow the sun to heat your home naturally. When the sun sets, remember to close your window coverings to help keep the cold air at bay.

8. Turn Off Outside Faucets

One of the biggest issues you can encounter during winter is freezing pipes. When this happens, your pipes can burst, causing a costly repair emergency. To stop this from occurring before it gets colder, simply drain your outdoor faucets.

To drain outdoor faucets, turn off your water supply valve. Next, check for any hoses or connections to your faucets and remove them and store them away for the season. Then, turn the faucet on all the way and let it run until it drips to a complete stop to push out any excess water. Once the faucet stops running, turn it off.

9. Clean Your Gutters

If you didn’t have time in the fall, now is the time to clean your gutters before winter strikes. If your gutters get backed up, this causes them to overflow, which causes water to run into your house. This can deteriorate your home’s exterior and foundation, creating even more complications, such as mold and sinkage. If you aren’t able to clean the gutters yourself, consider hiring a professional to clean them for you.

10.  Test Your Sump Pump

If your house has a sump pump (or two), you’ll want to make sure it’s ready and working for winter. While they are usually associated with rainfall, they are equally important when the snow falls. Ensure your sump pump is working correctly, so you leave nothing to chance.

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The Takeaway

If preparing your home for winter was not at the top of your to-do list around the holidays, now is the time to prep for the cold months ahead. By following simple steps like using a programmable thermostat, sealing air leaks, and getting a mini split heating system, you can help keep your house heated efficiently and comfortably all winter long.