For many people, winter evokes images of evenings spent in front of a toasty fireplace with a hot beverage, an afghan, a good book, and a pet. It’s a time of holiday gatherings with family and friends amid decorations, movies, music, and tons of amazing food. You might even build a snowman, make an ice tree, or go skiing or sledding.
If you’re a homeowner or real estate investor, you can of course enjoy all those things too. But you might want to think about getting a little work done first. That’s because winterizing your home could save you thousands of dollars.
Let’s look at what exactly you might need to do, how much it’s all likely to cost, and how much money you stand to save.
Getting your home winter ready
There’s no scene quite like a beautiful snow-covered landscape. Seeing the yard you’ve been looking at all year transformed into a winter wonderland overnight can be spectacular. But severe winter weather can bring more than beauty to your property. Icy temps, powerful gusts, and heavy snow can all threaten your home.
Fortunately, careful preparation can help ensure your home stays safe this winter and that your utility costs don’t get too outrageous. It can also reduce your odds of losing a blizzard of cash to a painful repair bill.
Home services company Angi surveyed over 2,000 homeowners to find out how they handle winterization. Results revealed that the average homeowner spends $1,316 per year to get their home winter ready. That result lumps together those who hire out each task with DIYers, so you could spend considerably less if you’re willing and able to tackle some of these chores yourself.
Here are some tasks homeowners can undertake before Old Man Winter comes to town.
Cover it up
According to Angi, insulating your pipes with plastic foam pipe wrap is one step that can save big bucks. How big? Well, a burst pipe could leave you with $3,500 in damage. That price tag — not to mention that mess — could put a pretty big damper on your holiday festivities. Plumbing insulation costs vary widely but start as low as $110, according to HomeAdvisor.
Seal it up
Cracks around doors and windows can let in that frosty air and drive heating costs up. Caulking them, using foam or rubber weather stripping, or installing door sweeps beneath exterior doors is a low-cost fix that can help you hold on to more of that money or spend it on better things — like your holiday party and gifts.
Clean it up
When all that lovely snow melts, you don’t want to end up with clogged gutters full of water. The result could be water damage or broken gutters, leaving no way to divert all that water away from your foundation. That’s why you’ll want to be sure your gutters are clear before winter.
And don’t forget about that cozy fire. The ambiance of a fireplace on a cold winter’s night is hard to beat, but fireplaces do need to be maintained. According to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay about $252 each year for a chimney sweep. Lighting a fire when you have built-up soot and ash in the chimney is a house fire risk, so this isn’t much to pay for the peace of mind that comes with a clean chimney.
Another reason not to let it go too long? Hiring a chimney sweep when you have years of buildup could raise the price to as much as $800.
Winterize your home for peace of mind this season
If you’re unsure where to begin or if you haven’t winterized recently, Angi recommends hiring a local handyperson to do a walk-through. They can point out what needs to be done and what might need updating, as well as provide estimates. You can then look into what each step of winterizing your home will involve in detail to get an idea of which tasks you might be comfortable tackling on your own, if any.
Like so many things in nature, winter can be both awe-inspiring and devastating. Fortunately, a little preparation can go a long way toward protecting your investment. Whether you’re a homeowner or an investor, knowing you’ve prepared your property for whatever winter might bring could keep you feeling warm and cozy all season long.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.