More than half a year after February’s winter storm, Texans are still reeling from the aftershock…210 Texans died, and the record-breaking insurance claims from damage to homes are still piling up.
Is the state better equipped this winter if another storm hits? There were two laws passed this year with the hopes to better prepare us, but stakeholders all over the state are already finding holes in the legislation.
I do see one BIG advantage Texans have…we’ve always had it, but now it’s time to use it in a new way:
We are INDEPENDENT.
…Why, then, should we place all our bets on state legislation? I don’t think anyone reading this wants to do that!
When it comes to winterizing your home, you DO have more control than you realize…yes, the state will have to step up to update infrastructures. But YOU can take control in YOUR home to winterize it and protect your family and your investment.
If you’re one of the almost four and a half MILLION Texans who were without power the week (or weeks) after the 2021 winter storm, you know how bad it can get.
It’s really no surprise that a state of emergency was declared. It was terrible.
You can take steps to protect your own access to electricity, though…or at least be better prepared if another outage does happen. You can also lower your electric bill while you’re at it…
- Protect the heat source: Your HVAC system uses electricity to run. If you’ve been without power before, you know that no electricity means no A/C or heat. Hire a service professional now to check your furnace and water heater’s power connections, because faulty connections will compound power outage problems.
- Consider the lighting: Your lights will be on more often in the winter because days are shorter and there’s less sunlight to get through the day. Your electric bill climbs as a result. Switch to energy-efficient bulbs now to help save on the winter hike in your energy bills.
- Have a plan: We can’t stress this one enough—HAVE A PLAN FOR POWER OUTAGES. What will you do with your refrigerated goods? Do you have portable chargers for essential handheld devices? Consider a portable or whole-home generator to make sure you have backup power, too…and make sure you have gas for it stored safely in the garage!!
When it came to plumbing problems after the storm, some said that Texans were hit especially hard since we weren’t experienced (and therefore weren’t prepared) for such a blast of pipe freezes.
Did you know the SPEED of a drop in temperature is one of the biggest factors leading to burst pipes?! It’s not as simple as a low temperature causing a freeze…there are other factors that make pipes more susceptible, too.
Take these easy preventative measures to instantly reduce your risk…
- Insulate your pipes: Any pipes in crawl spaces or attics are especially susceptible to freezes. Insulate them now…and by the way, you can never over-insulate a pipe!!
- Use heat tape: Heat tape or “thermostatically-controlled heat cables” is something your local handyman can install on interior or exterior pipes for added protection.
- Find and seal air leaks: Air leaks let cold air inside your home, which means you won’t be able to control the temperature inside. This leads to higher heating bills AND makes those crawl and attic spaces more susceptible to temperature drops. Seal leaks around your home’s exterior, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes with quality caulking.
- Adjust your thermostat: Keeping one constant temperature avoids putting strain on your pipes (and your furnace).
Read more about how to winterize your plumbing in this preparation checklist…for example, do you know how to prepare for a vacation during freeze season?!
Speaking of adjusting your thermostat, winterizing your heating system is good for your home AND for your energy bill.
Here’s what to do…
- Change your furnace filters: If you haven’t already changed them for the season, change your furnace filters out NOW before you start cranking the heat! Dirty filters restrict airflow and make your system work harder…it also decreases your air quality. (Test your own air quality at home to see where you’re at…)
- Heat the people, not the space: This is the number-one way to keep energy bills down AND prepare your household for an emergency, for example if another storm were to hit…get everyone into the practice now of using cozy sweaters and slippers to put less demand on your furnace!
- Mind your thermostat: Did you know that for every degree you turn your thermostat down, you can save up to 5% of your heating bill? WOW. A programmable thermostat helps you stay even more efficient and get super precise, too…
Your home exterior needs to be protected, too. This is important to keeping your exterior in its best condition, and ALSO because it will have an impact on your comfort and safety inside.
As Old Man Winter approaches, get ready ahead of time with these simple to-dos…
- Check the gutters: Clean your gutters and install gutter guards to avoid fallen leaves clogging and freezing your drains (we call these ice dams). The flow of water and ice off your roof and away from your house is essential to avoid serious leaks into your home.
- Secure hoses, valves and faucets: Cover your spigots, store hoses and check all exterior valves and faucets BEFORE we even get close to the first freeze!!
- Careful of slips! Keep your driveways and sidewalks safe by repairing any issues now. That means your steps and handrails should all be safe and easy to use.
- Clear the yard: Keep your trees trimmed and remove any dead branches and debris. Ice and snow WILL weaken already-weak branches, causing them to fall and hurt someone (or your home)…
Ready or not, winter is coming…
Just a few months ago, we talked about our own key takeaways from the 2021 winter storm…
Now that we’re staring down ANOTHER winter, instead of waiting with bated breath for state legislation to save the day, the best option is to take care of our homes and families the best we can.
For you, that means winterizing your home now.
For us, that means being available to help now and in the case of an emergency. (Let’s hope we don’t have another, though.)
We believe your home is more than an investment…it’s where you feel safe, it’s where you get comfortable, and it’s where you make memories. Download our Home Check-Up Worksheet to see where else you can get those returns and more!!