Homeowners insurance blog

Don’t Let Cold Weather Sneak Up

Even in the South, change is in the air. It might not be a cold wind blowing – just a cool breeze. But sunrises are later, sunsets are earlier, and days are shorter. Even if the pool is still open and the grill still fired up, the calendar keeps its slow march to fall – with winter hiding close behind.

Is your home ready for all the changes?

Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready when the temperature really falls:

Check for leaks

Don’t invite winter chill into your home. You can save as much as 15% on heating costs by sealing off leaks, according to consumerenergycenter.org. Where can heat escape from your home?

  • Around doors and windows.
  • Ducts, pipes, or wires that penetrate walls or ceilings.
  • Electrical wall plugs and switches.
  • Cracked heating ducts.

Estimated cost: A 36-yard roll of door stripping costs about $60. Measure the area you need to strip. A tube of caulking costs about $12. Use stripper or caulk to seal off holes around ducts, pipes, or wires. Insulated foam gaskets for wall plugs and switches cost about 10 cents each.

An energy audit of your home could cost around $1,000. But it could reveal ways you can reduce energy costs that would offset that expense.

Clean out your gutters

Ever heard of ice dams? They can form in your home’s gutters if leaves and other debris clog them. This is particularly important once leaves are falling during autumn. Ice dams can lead to water leakage that gets into your home. Gutters and pipes should be inspected for any misalignment, too.

Estimated cost: Having the gutters cleaned can range from $65-$300, depending on number of floors and square footage. Or, you can do this yourself, with a ladder, gloves and trash bags.

Turn up the heat

Sure, it’s not time to crank the heat full-time yet? But is your furnace ready for the big chill when it comes? A technician can check for manufacturer-rated efficiency and carbon-monoxide leaks. No matter what system type you have in your home, now’s the time for a checkup. You can test it yourself, too.

Turn your thermostat to heat mode, and set it to 80 degrees. Does it turn on within a couple of minutes? If not, consult an expert. Also, this is a great time to replace your air filter.

Estimated cost: About $100 to schedule an inspection. Repairs would be extra.

Review your home insurance

Any change of season is a great time to look over your home insurance policy. Here are three areas you should examine:

  • Update your home inventory: This is the first step to determine how much coverage you need for contents. Plus, it makes the process easier if you must file a claim to replace or repair things in your home. Don’t yet have a home inventory? Get started here.
  • Add in renovations and additions: Your dwelling coverage should be updated if you’ve upgraded appliances, remodeled your living room, or finished your basement. Liability coverage might need to be changed if you’ve added a swimming pool or playground equipment since your last review. Look for discounts available for new smoke detectors or other safety measures. And consider a scheduled endorsement to cover expensive new purchases, such as jewelry or works of art.
  • Shop around: Consider what the competition has to offer. Insurance is a competitive industry, and another carrier might have a better offer. Research what average home insurance premiums are in your state first so that you have a baseline for expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, of your current carrier or potential new partnership.

Getting your home ready before the chill sets in also gives you a chance to replace doors or windows more comfortably. Just a quick run through a checklist like this can help you enjoy the turn of the season, rather than scramble to keep things cozy.