Today, with virtual work and social distancing, living space is exponentially more coveted. So, it’s not surprising that the next few years will likely bring an uptick in homeownership — from the U.S. having 7.64 million first-time homebuyers between 2016 and 2018, to a predicted 8.3 million between 2020 and 2022. But being a new homeowner comes with a lot of questions and new responsibilities.
If you’re a new homeowner, consider the following checklist to ensure you’re keeping your house in top shape. By following these steps annually, you can expect to save money and stay comfortable, all while protecting your home against disaster during the winter season.
- Seal your door and window frames. Remember that part of the house that was hot in the summer, despite the high-powered AC? Now is a good time to look for any cracks or openings in your windows and doors — it’s as easy as waving your hand in front of them on a breezy day. Fixing this problem can increase your comfort on chilly days and save you money on your heating bill.
- Get a heating system check-up. By scheduling heating system maintenance annually, you can make sure all the vital components (air filters, thermostat, blower motors, etc.) are in good working order. Otherwise, heating your home may be putting unnecessary pressure on the system, leading to higher bills and failure.
- Clean your dryer vent. Most of us know to clean the lint trap, but how often are you checking your dryer’s exterior vent? This very simple task is often overlooked until it is too late. By ensuring that the exterior vent and hose are unclogged and free of overheated dust and debris, you can avoid a costly replacement — or worse, a house fire.
- Hire a chimney sweep. Before lighting up your fireplace this winter, bring someone in to clean it out. Clogs can trap dangerous gasses, including carbon monoxide, in your chimney and force them back into your home. Click here for more information on carbon monoxide safety.
- Drain your garden hose. If you don’t detach and completely drain any outdoor hoses prior to the winter months, freezes can occur, breaking the hose and even backing up into the home, causing additional and costly damage.
- Check your indoor heating vents. It’s simple, but easily missed. Locate each vent and check to make sure that it is not under a rug or any other object. A vent needs to be cleared of all coverings in order to function properly.
- Check your AC unit. It might sound strange, but it’s important to watch your AC unit during winter months. Ensure that there is a two-foot clearing around your condenser unit (the outdoor part of your system). When ice and snow start to freeze over, any twigs, branches or brush left on top of or around it will cause issues with the unit.
- Keep an eye on your water heater. Are you running out of hot water after a short shower? Is muddy, orange or “rotten egg” smelling water coming from the tap? Are there weird sounds coming from, or a puddle accumulating around, your hot water tank? Is your tank over 10 years old? These are all signs that your hot water heater needs professional attention.
- Let in the sun. One of the best, and simplest, ways to lower heating costs this winter is to utilize the most natural source of heat: the sun. Instead of cranking up the thermostat, open your curtains on a sunny day
- Look into protection programs. Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies typically do not cover system failures or breakdowns due to normal wear and tear. By enrolling in optional protection programs, such as those offered by American Water Resources, you can find extra peace of mind knowing that a home warranty provides coverage when major systems fail due to normal wear and tear and can protect homeowners from the high cost of unexpected repair costs.
Being a first-time buyer can be scary and intimidating. By providing this checklist, we hope to help millions of new homeowners find an easier transition into winter in their new abode, while also protecting their home for the future.