September 18, 2018 | Haley Kinard

Photo via Pixabay 

When winter moves in, many homeowners realize they haven’t prepared for the cold weather as much as they would have liked to. In some states, autumn doesn’t hang around long, giving only a slight reprieve between the hot summer days and a chance of snow, and sometimes winter weather hits hard. No one wants to be caught without a properly working furnace or high heating bills, so it’s important to do an inspection of your home and consider what needs to be taken care of to weather the winter.

The problem for many homeowners is figuring out which projects they can tackle on their own and which ones should be left to the pros. If you can handle a DIY project, it will likely save you money and possibly even time; once it gets cold out, for instance, many heating and air companies have too many jobs to handle and have to schedule some customers weeks in advance.

Below you’ll find a guide to figuring out which projects you can tackle on your own and which are best left to someone else.

Check your furnace

Even if your home isn’t that old, it’s a good idea to have your furnace inspected before firing it up for the season. Not only will it give you peace of mind that you won’t have to deal with any issues in the dead of winter, it will also save you money in the long run.

Of course, part of furnace maintenance is checking and replacing the filter, which you can easily do yourself. Many stores carry these now -- sometimes even grocery stores have them -- but make sure you know which size you need. Get a few; they’re usually relatively inexpensive, depending on the brand, so you’ll have some handy for the next seasonal change. How often you replace it depends on how often you use your furnace, but it’s generally advisable to change the filter about once a month.


Insulation is an important part of keeping your family warm, but it also helps cut utility costs when it’s done well. Depending on your level of experience and how available the materials are, you may be able to install or replace insulation yourself, but there are several precautions to take, such as wearing the right protective gear and making sure you have a sturdy walking surface in attic spaces. Consider these factors and weigh them against the cost of DIYor taking it to the pros.

Clean it up

Even the cleanest of homes can accumulate dust, dirt, pet hair, and other debris inside vents and on ceiling fans, which can affect the way they do their jobs and, by extension, the way they affect your utility bill. Once each heating season, take off the air vent covers and clean them with a damp cloth. Use the vacuum extension hose to suck out the dust from the vent opening. If you hire a pro to clean your ducts and vents, the average cost is $321.

Look at the windows

Insulation is one thing, but if you have air leaks around windows and doors, you’re going to find yourself spending quite a bit of money throughout the winter on heating costs. Check for these leaks and consider using weather stripping -- or caulk if the crack is big enough -- to seal up your home and keep your family nice and toasty.

Deciding whether to take on home projects yourself or leave them to the pros can be a big job, so talk to your spouse or partner and ask for support from friends and family who have been through it before. They may be able to offer some assistance or even advice to help you finish the job. Good luck and stay warm!


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