To help save you a little money, we thought we'd share information on common property tax exemptions available in Texas to help homeowners save some money!
Winterize Your Home
While winter may be in full force in some parts of the country, Texas, as usual, hasn’t seen a great deal of cold weather yet. That said, temperatures are expected hover near freezing this week, so it is important to take precautions to protect your home before the cold hits hard.
Place insulated covers over any exterior faucets and insulate exposed pipes. Make sure faucets are completely closed first and resolve any leaks. Leaving plumbing exposed during cold temperatures can cause any moisture inside to freeze and expand, possibly breaking or cracking the pipes, and leading to leaks later on. Foam insulation covers and pipe sleeves are inexpensive, so there’s no reason not to have them! To be extra safe, install pipe sleeves on pipes located in garages and attics that are not heated by your home’s HVAC system.
Empty hoses completely and store them indoors. Just like with pipes, frozen water will damage your hoses. Hang them in the middle over a fence or other sturdy surface and let each side hang down for a while until all of the water has trickled out. Then, wind them up and place them in a garage or storage shed until you’re ready to use them next year.
Clean the gutters. Dirt, leaves, and other debris can cause water to puddle up in the gutters. When temperatures drop, that water will freeze and expand, which can cause cracks, breaks, or even pull gutters loose from your home as the weight bears down on screws and nails. Additionally, dripping water can freeze and cause icicles. They may be pretty to look at but can be harmful if they break loose and fall on people, pets, or fragile surfaces.
Inspect all window frames, door frames, and caulked seams along your home. Caulk is also quite inexpensive, so pick up a tube or 2 to fill in any gaps or replace any cracked and dried out caulk. Pay special attention to the areas around vents or any other openings, too. Doing so will help prevent cold air from entering your home. Once you seal up outside, do a quick caulk check inside, too.
Cover any plants that won’t tolerate the cold well with a plant cover or old towels or blankets to help them survive the brutal temperatures. Adding extra mulch will help insulate their roots, too.
Move patio furniture inside, if possible, or place weatherproof covers on each piece to protect their finishes and prevent damage.
Turn sprinkler systems off and purge any remaining water from the system (the latter may require a professional if you are unfamiliar with the process or uncomfortable working with compressed air).
Inspect and replace weather stripping as needed. Weather strips are inexpensive foam or plastic trim pieces that help seal your doors and windows, keeping drafts out. These materials break down over the years and will need to be replaced regularly. If you see light coming through a closed door or window frame, that means air is getting in, too. Head to a local home improvement store and pick up some new strips. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. If the forecast calls for an extended freeze, consider adding insulation film as well. Think of it like plastic wrap for your food. This film sticks to window frames and completely seals them off so that no air will get through.
Service your furnace. An annual pre-season service can extend the life of your system and help prevent issues that might keep you uncomfortably cold! Most professionals will charge you less than $150 for this type of service, which includes work like coil cleaning, new filters, and an inspection of your heating system. Bonus- proper servicing can help reduce your energy bills in the winter and summer seasons!
Hire a chimney sweep, if you have a wood burning fireplace. Burning real wood causes a build-up of soot and harmful chemicals. Annual cleanings will also remove any nests or other debris that made its way down the vent pipe. Doing so will prevent smoke and carbon dioxide from hanging around in your home, prevent fires, and extend the life of your fireplace. While you’re at it, check to make sure the damper or flu closes completely for the times your fireplace is not in use. If you don’t use your fireplace, cover it and seal the edges to keep cold air from the chimney from coming in the house.
Keep cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate through, keeping pipes warm, especially if they are located along exterior walls. Drip faucets to keep water flowing.
Switch ceiling fans to run clockwise. Doing so will help push the warm air down, since it tends to rise naturally.
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