10 ways to winterize your home

The weather is different in every area but winterizing your home for the cold months and getting ready for the worse is extremely useful if not necessary!  Here are 10 ways to help you stay safe, reduce your bills, and stay warmer during the upcoming winter.  I’m going to start on the outside of the house and work my way in.
1.   Cleaning/Fixing Rain gutters
This is something I skipped last year and it ended up biting me in the behind.  All the leaves stop the water from moving smoothly causing ice dams that can cause damage to your rain gutters and even get water into your house!  Clean out the leaves and make sure the gutters are all aligned and not leaking. This can be real dangerous if you have little kids playing around the house and they aren’t fixed.
2.Storm doors and windows
These are a luxury item but well worth the money if they can be afforded.  Providing an extra layer of protection in the cold months from the snow and wind can make a huge heat difference in your house which could translate into savings in the long run!  They also can be lifesavers in real nasty weather when things are falling and blowing everywhere.  The storm doors have saved our windows numerous times here in Japan when the typhoons roll in and blow branches and loose items against the house.
3.Check/Fix Roof
Seems like a no brainer but check for cracks or holes in your roof that can allow leakage into the attic or ceiling insulation.  The last thing you want is to try and fix a leak with a meter of snow on your roof!
4.   Support/Trim Trees and Shrubs
Here in my area of Japan they don’t take this one lightly as people lover their yards and beautifully manicured trees and shrubs.  The snow can be very heavy and damage all plants so wood supports are used along with trimming and mulching to make sure the plants make it to see another year.  Also trimming can be beneficial if you have large trees around the house so big branches don’t break onto your house under the weight of the
snow.
5.   Check/Fix Cracked Cement
It seems like they always have road maintenance in my area and yet the roads are still bad.  Ice is terrible for cement and gets into the cracks and expands making your little crack get bigger and bigger.  So make sure if you have any cracks in your entryway or around your house  to patch them up before they get beyond repair.  Trust me a little safeguarding goes a long way!
2 years of cracks that werent repaired! Grrrr and right at the back door!!
6.   Empty AC units and insulate pipes
You don’t want any leftover water in your AC units once the winter hits.  It will most likely cause a hefty repair bill come summer.  So empty the unit out along with any pipes or hoses that are connected.  Talking about pipes insulating the other pipes in your house helps keeping them from freezing over which can be your worst nightmare during winter.  And also helps keep them warmer making it easier and faster for the hot water to get delivered inside. Insulation is pretty cheap and can save you quite a bit on your energy bill.
7.  Cover air leaks (#1 important, I think)
Whether it is window sills, door cracks, ceiling vents or any other leaks in or out of the house blocking that hot air from escaping goes a LONG way in saving you money on your heating source and ultimately keeping you warmer.  Weather stripping door and windows for those small cracks is very easy and inexpensive to do.  You can also seal a whole window with plastic if it is beyond weather stripping repair.  Anything can be used to keep the hot air in you just have to use your imagination. Since we don’t have very much money we use old blankets and clothes to cover our houses many sliding doors. It’s a cheap/free fix.  But you can use door sills or even make your own. I have seen bubble wrap used in windows along with heavy blanket like curtains as well.  If you don’t have very much money ingenuity is key!
8.   Carpets and Slippers
Here in Japan most of the flooring in the houses consists of a mixture of tatami mats, wood, and/or linoleum.  Carpet is rarely used making for a very cold floor.  Your feet get cold very quickly.  Carpets and slippers provide two very important layers of insulation for your body especially your feet.
9.   Clothing and Food
DUH!! Easiest way to stay warm is to put some extra clothes on.  Buy warm socks and keep a sweater on in the house is a surefire way to stay warmer. Also hot drinks, soups, and stews are great things for the cold winter days.  There is a traditional stew-like meal here in Japan called Nabe that is famous and cooked quite often during the winter to warm up the cold bodies.  Also keeping your stove on by baking bread or sweets is a productive/fun way to keep the house and your tummy warm.  Drinking is fun too!
10.Emergency Supplies
A 2-3 day supply of food, water, and fuel is wise just in case you get snowedin. Last year we were snowed in for a day and luckily we had everything we needed.  This year I will be making a week supply as snow dumps in meters here  I also wanted to write just a little about some of the unique things about the Japanese winter.  Central heating is NOT used and kerosene/gas stoves are used instead.  So it is wise to buy a winter supply of gas if you can or have at least enough to last a few weeks at a time.  Also Japan has a heated coffee table called a kotatsu which everyone sits around during the winter.  These are extremely nice and make you quite lazy as you never want to leave them! These two things are the main source of heat in Japanese households along with maybe a heated carpet here and there.  It’s tough to keep your whole house heated as it takes an enormous amount of gas and numerous stoves to do so.
Most people congregate into one or two rooms heat them up and stay under the kotatsu.  So to wrap it up my main point is a little preparation before hand goes a long way in keeping you warmer, safer, andhopefully reducing some of the bills you have to pay on keeping yourself warm this winter.  May your winter be easy and may spring come soon!!

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