Your home is the heart and hub of your family. Protecting your home is important to you (and to us).
While Texas winters may not have the traditional types of winter weather hazards for homeowners, we still need to be aware of the ways we are protecting your largest asset.
During the winter months, we see more activity at home because of the cooler weather and the holidays. Family visits and lifestyle changes can have an impact on your home and your exposure to risks that you might not be thinking about.
In this article, we are going to cover:
Please note: your homeowner's insurance gives you coverage for accidents or losses all year round. But, the holiday season and cooler months can increase the risk of loss.
Let's look at a few of our team's tips to help Texas homeowners survive the winter months.
Holiday Homeowner Safety Checklist.
Holiday decorations are a fun way for Texas families to spread some cheer and make their homes more festive. While holiday decorations can be beautiful, they can also present fire hazards.
Decorating Safety Tips.
- Only buy electrical decorations that have a UL rating on the label, which indicates that they have been tested for safe use.
- Follow all installation and usage instructions for lighting decorations to ensure that you are not increasing your chance of starting a fire.
- Inspect new and used lights before using them and discard any that have cracks, exposed wires or loose connections.
- Do not connect more than three sets of lights to an extension cord at one time.
- Plug outside lighting only into a ground fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) outlet, as this will safeguard the outlet from any interaction with water.
- Do not secure outside lights with staples or nails, and avoid placing indoor extension cords under carpeting, rugs, and furniture.
- Unplug lighting decorations before going to bed and leaving the house.
- If you set up a Christmas tree, place the tree in a sturdy stand at least 3 feet away from heat sources.
- Only keep your Christmas tree for two weeks, because it will dry out quickly and can become highly flammable.
Are you traveling out of town this holiday season?
Holidays are a prime season for home burglaries. With families traveling, it can be an opportune time for someone to sneak in and steal your valuables.
Be cautious of sharing your travel plans on social media sites. Posting about your travels and sharing it with the world can make you a target for thieves. If you want to share your pictures from your trip, post your pictures after you return. Your friends and family can still enjoy seeing your photos.
If your neighbors are not traveling, let them know your plans so they can keep an eye on your property. For added security or safety, perhaps you can pay someone you trust to house sit while you are away.
Ways to Save on Utility Costs During the Winter Months in Texas
Next, our tips to help Texas homeowners to survive the winter months brings us to ways you can save on utility costs. Just because the temperatures are cooler, doesn't mean you and your family need to bear the chilly repercussions. There are several ways to reduce your utility bill while staying warm and cozy.
- Look for and seal any areas where heat may escape from your home, especially around windows and doors.
- Use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature when you are away from home.
- Check the temperature setting of your water heater and insulate it to prevent heat loss.
- Ensure that your vents and radiators are not blocked. This will allow warm air to circulate through your home freely.
- Open window curtains and blinds during the day to let the sunlight warm your home, and close them at night to keep the heat from escaping.
- Check your furnace filter and replace it if it's dirty.
- Have all HVAC systems inspected by a professional before winter, and repair any leaky ductwork.
- Shut the doors and close the vents to rooms that you are not using. Doing so will allow you to heat the rooms that are in use more efficiently.
Reducing Common Cold Weather Risks
Next on our list for helping Texas homeowners survive the winter months includes some tips on reducing common cold-weather risks. In Houston Texas, we don't experience some of the more severe cold weather, like our Northern neighbors.
However, it is important that homeowners are aware of the risks of using space heaters and fireplaces. In the event that temperatures drop below freezing long enough to impact the pipes, we've included some additional tips as well.
10 Space Heaters Safety Precautions
With our mild Houston winters, space heaters might be a good short-term heat source option. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires from December through February, and the second leading cause of home fires year-round.
Keep the following safety precautions in mind when using such equipment, like space heaters.
- Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, thaw pipes or dry clothing.
- Select space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark.
- Purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
- Keep any items that could potentially be a source of fire at least 3 feet away from a space heater.
- Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns.
- Check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating on electrical space heaters. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately.
- Use only fuel recommended by the manufacturer for liquid-fueled space heaters.
- Turn off the heater and let it cool before refueling.
- Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
10 Tips for Preventing Freezing Pipes
While homeowners in Houston, Texas probably don't experience freezing temperatures long enough for pipes to freeze, it is always prudent to know what to do in the event Mother Nature decides to send us some irregular winter weather.
Consider these tips for how homeowners can prevent and minimize the threat of freezing pipes.
Generally, pipes that are exposed to outdoor temperatures freeze more readily, such as hose bibs, swimming pool lines and water sprinkler lines. Pipes that run along exterior walls in the home with minimal insulation also tend to freeze more easily.
Keep your pipes from freezing with the following recommendations to prevent frozen pipes in your home:
- Insulate pipes in unheated interior areas, such as crawl spaces and attics.
- Wrap pipes in heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
- Seal any leaks with caulk or insulation.
- Disconnect outdoor items such as hoses and faucets.
- Shut off these items completely using an indoor valve and allow the excess water to drain out.
- Trickle a little water out of your faucets periodically to keep water moving within the pipes.
- Keep your garage door closed if there is a water supply in there.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night.
- Do not set your thermostat lower than 55° F when going on vacation. Ask someone to periodically check the temperature in your home while you are away.
As you can see, there is a lot to be thinking about this holiday season when it comes to your home and protecting your family's largest asset. Don't wait until it is too late to make sure your coverage is correct.
While your homeowner's insurance policy cannot prevent accidents or loss, it can make sure you are covered for repairs or replacements.
Now is the time to get a homeowner's policy review. The Pasadena Insurance Agency team is always available for a free policy review or annual premium proposal. Know your options and get the right coverage. Call us today!