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Prepare Your Home for Winter, Even in the South

Depending on where you live, the weather may still feel more like spring than winter. But make no mistake, cooler temperatures are on their way. Now's the time to winterize your home. Here's how to get prepped from the outside in.

Outside the Home

Plant protection -- Starting at about 36 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor plants become susceptible to damage. If you want your plants to survive the winter, adding extra mulch, watering them regularly and covering them with sheets can help.

Winter weatherstripping -- Tiny cracks in your home's exterior can lead to big utility bills as the temperature drops. Fortunately, these small leaks are typically easy and inexpensive to fix. Focus on sealing up any area connected directly to the outside. Cold air is most likely to leak in via windowpanes and sills, siding or brick and baseboard cracks.

Faucet fortification -- Exterior faucets are notoriously vulnerable to freezes, making them prime winterization targets. All you need to do to protect your pipes is unscrew and drain the hose, and then add styrofoam or polyethylene insulators to the faucet.

Inside the Home

Ceiling fan direction -- In school most of us learned that warm air rises. Switching your ceiling fan so that it rotates clockwise in the winter can help pull down and evenly distribute rising heat throughout a room.

Filters and furnace -- A little routine filter and furnace maintenance goes a long way. Service your heating units at least once a year to help prolong their lives. Remaining diligent about replacing the filter every one to three months can also save you money on heating costs.

Chimney check-in -- There's nothing like a roaring fire to stave off a winter chill. But first, conduct a bit of fireplace upkeep. Getting the chimney and flume cleaned, or at least inspected, could save your home and your life.

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