How to Store Your Winter Gear

With winter coming up in a few short weeks, your home is sure to become abundant with coats, boots, shovels, skis and more. Certain rooms in your home, such as your entryway, mudroom, closets and garage become places to store all of this winter gear and can become messy and crowded. To keep everything organized and in its proper place, here are a few helpful storage accessories and tips.

mudroom mat

Place absorbent mats on the floor. It sounds obvious enough, but placing mats to trap the water near entryways is a must. Also place absorbent mats around the areas where the winter items are stored, since there will be a lot of foot traction in this area. This will help make your job of cleaning easier and prevent your home from getting too dirty from outside debris. If you isolate the mats to just one space in the home, that will become the destination for taking off winter boots and coats, instead of having to clean up mud and snow all over the house.

open storage

Open storage works best. Instead of cramming things into old cabinets or drawers, utilize open storage. Open cubbies, shelves and cabinets allow you to see all of the items you’re storing and choose the necessary ones easily. More importantly, open storage allows for proper ventilation and air circulation for any items that have snow, rain or mud debris on them. This type of storage allows you to air dry your items while keeping everything at an arm’s reach. For shoes, look for a shoe organizer to separate the boots from sneakers and invest in a boot dryer if possible to speed up the drying process.

mudroom hooks

Add hooks. Hooks are great for hanging items that need to dry, like wet coats and snowpants. Hanging things also saves space on the bottom of the rack or closet, which is great for storing shoes.

mudroom organization

Invest in baskets and storage bins. These types of storage containers let you place similar items together. For example, you can put gloves in one container and scarves in another, or even assign one bin to each child or person for their winter items. Grouping items together keeps things organized and easy to find in a last-minute rush. If the baskets or bins are stackable, they can easily be stored away when winter is over with.

shoe storage

Utilize door storage. Over-the-door storage racks or shoe organizers are ideal for smaller items like gloves, hats and scarves. Just make sure the items are properly dried and clean before storing them to prevent mildew.

snowboard storage

Add storage racks in the garage. Instead of leaving your winter items on the ground everywhere, invest in some hanging storage racks for your garage, mudroom or shed. There are a large variety of options available, including shovel racks and racks for skis, snowshoes and snowboards. Any items that can be stacked or laid flat would fit on long shelves as well. For heavier winter gear that won’t fit inside the house, you can install coat racks in the garage or shed. Encouraging storage outside of the home (like in a garage or outdoor shed) frees up entryway space inside your home and reduces the clutter and mess.

*images are from Apartment Therapy & Femaleways

Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

thermostat

The late fall chills are a sign that winter is just around the corner. As the colder months approach us, our heating bill inevitably rises. Since efficient heating is important to your health and happiness, it’s hard to avoid it all together. However, you can take action to reduce your heating bill this winter.

First, you should clean and check your heating systems. Much like cleaning out your air conditioner right before summer, late fall is the best time to do so with your heating system. Check that your heat pump, furnace and stoves are all operating properly and replace and clean any filters. This makes sure that your heat will come out efficiently. If you have an old heating system, it may be time to invest is a new one, since older versions are less competent than newer versions. This will ultimately cut your heating bill a bit and increase the value of your home in the long run.

Next, you want to make sure that the heat you are getting from your system stays in your home. Sealing your windows and doors properly is the best way to do this. Windows and doors that have holes or leaks will release heat and raise your bill each month. You may need to replace a window altogether if the cracks and leaks are bad enough. However, you can usually seal up cracks on your own or with the help of a contractor. You may want to have your home properly insulated as well, since this can help your home from losing heat.

Turn the heat down when you are away or sleeping. Since most people sleep better in cooler conditions, turn your heat down slightly at nighttime. Those 8 hours can save some money on your bill each month. When you are away from your home during the day or for an extended period of time (such as a vacation or weekend trip), turn the heat down as well. There’s no need to keep your house warm when you aren't there! Consider buying a programmable thermostat so you don’t have to worry about lowering the heat on your own.

You can also turn down the thermostat on your water heater a small amount to save some money without a noticeable difference. Generally, it shouldn't be set any higher than 125 degrees. If your water heater is old, you may want to install a water heater blanket or look into getting a new and more efficient one in the future. You can also insulate the pipes around the water heater.

Use curtains to your advantage. Opening curtains during sunny days allows the solar radiation to warm your room. At night, closing curtains helps the heat from escaping and the cold air from coming in.

Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season

Fall is the perfect time to start planning and preparing your home for the upcoming winter season. With winter comes significantly cooler temperatures and poor weather conditions (snow, ice and freezing rain). This affects your water systems, heating systems and your home’s energy efficiency. Preparing a few months ahead of time is the best way to plan for a disaster before it happens and keep your home and family safe. Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for the winter season.

Update your water systems. Winterizing your water systems is an important task that most homes require in some form. These water systems that should be dealt with include faucets, sprinkler systems and pools. A home in a mild climate may not need their faucets to be dealt with, however colder regions may need some attention. In this case, shut off the water system and then pull off any attachments. Open up drain valve and leave the faucet in the open position for the winter season. For your sprinkler system, turn off the automatic timers first. Then open the pressure valves and drain out water from any section that might freeze. Lastly, if you have a pool you will need to do a few things. This includes removing any loose parts, lowering the water level and draining the pumping system.

Check windows and doors for drafts. In order to keep your heating bill from going off the charts, it’s important to check your windows and doors for drafts. Make sure that the edges of windows and doors are properly sealed and that the caulking has no cracks, gaps or holes. If they do, seal them with new caulking.

Inspect and clean your fireplace. In the warmer months, fireplaces are rarely used. Once winter rolls around and the temperatures begin to cool down, it becomes a frequently-used item in the home. During the fall, you should inspect and clean out your fireplace to make sure there is no build-up of debris. This debris, creosote, builds up and could start a chimney fire when you least expect it. Wood and gas fireplaces should also be swept once a year before winter and inspected as a precaution. This is also a great time to check for any cracks in the brick or mantle and have those repaired as well. Lastly, clean up any smoke marks or discoloration for a nice and clean appearance.

Inspect your furnace. Having a professional come in to service your furnace before winter is a very smart idea. They will clean various parts, check for carbon monoxide leaks and make sure that everything is running smoothly. Every few months you should change the air filters to keep the furnace clean year-round.