Essential Home Winterizing Tips for Seniors
More seniors are opting to age-in-place than ever before by making smart home modifications or downsizing to a more manageable dwelling to remain independent long into their golden years. If you’re an older adult committed to aging in place, you probably find that certain household tasks are simpler than others. Washing the dishes is one thing; shoveling a few feet of snow is quite another.
Of course, finances may also be tight, so hiring professionals on a whim isn’t always feasible. If you’re among the 90 percent of seniors who prefer to stay in your own home as you age, consider these essential winterizing tips that will keep you safer – and save you money – this winter.
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced. It’s a good idea to make sure your heating system is in good working order before the first cold snap hits. Doing so now, before the weather turns much cooler, might get you a lower rate and faster service, as demand is lower. Wait until temperatures are below freezing outdoors and suddenly discover that your heating system isn’t functioning at all, and you’ll have a much larger problem on your hands – and a longer wait time to get service.
- Repair or replace weather-stripping or caulking around doors and windows. It’s best to do this when it’s warmer, as caulking generally cooperates more readily and is “more pliable” in warmer temperatures. Heating your home is likely one of your biggest expenses, and this easy repair will help to prevent cold winds from seeping through the cracks surrounding your doors and windows. That means it will stay warmer inside, and the cold air will stay outdoors where it belongs.
- Check to make sure your pipes are properly insulated. If your home is older, it may have a few pipes in the exterior walls, where they’re more susceptible to the outside temperatures and more likely to freeze (or even burst) in cold temperatures without proper insulation. Wrapping those pipes with rubber sleeves, fiberglass insulation, or heating tape will help protect them from the elements.
If insulating isn’t possible and your sink is along an exterior wall, when temperatures get frigid, open the cabinet doors. This allows warm air in and can help to keep your pipes from freezing. Another trick is to turn the water on – just a trickle – which keeps water moving so it’s less likely to freeze.
- Reverse your ceiling fans to keep warm air circulating downward into the room. This is a simple fix if your ceiling fans have a reverse switch. When you turn on the heat in your home, switch your ceiling fans to turn clockwise, which will create an updraft and push the rising hot air back down into the room. You’ll be warmer as a result, and you may even be able to turn down the thermostat a degree or two.
- Protect your roof. Your roof is one of your home’s best defenses against winter weather, but that’s if and only if it’s in good shape. Before temperatures drop significantly have a contractor come out and inspect it. They’ll look for damage from previous storms and also can replace any missing shingles. To find an honest contractor, check out the contractors listed by the Better Business Bureau. As this example from the Massachusetts roofer, Duval Roofing, shows, the BBB provides a company overview as well as easy access to customer reviews and complaints. It can be a great help when you’re looking to make pre-winter home improvements.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Again, this is generally a problem that’s more common in older homes. Most newer homes are adequately insulated, but even recently built homes may lack sufficient insulation in the attic. Heat rises, so the home heat that you’re paying handsomely for could rise up and easily escape to your attic without proper insulation. You can imagine the impact of readily escaping heat on your home heating bills. If you can see the floor joists in your attic, chances are you don’t have enough insulation.
Aging in place is preferred by many older adults today, but the harsh winter months can pose challenges for seniors, both physically and financially. These easy home repairs will keep you safer and warmer this winter, while keeping your wallet a bit healthier as well.
Marie Villeza was inspired to start ElderImpact.org after she watched her son teach her father how to play Angry Birds™ on his smartphone. In that moment, she realized the importance of bringing the generations together so they can usher each other into the future, breaking down walls of fear and time. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking part in her monthly book club.
** Image via Flickr by Anathea Utley**