Autumn has once again swept into town, ushering away the heat and humidity and bringing instead a cool reprieve. These cooler temperatures remind us that winter is just around the corner and it is time to secure our homes. More than half of all homeowners renovated or updated their homes in 2017, and many of these homeowners are seniors.
With all of the hazards that come with winter, seniors find themselves at a higher risk of harm around the home and those on a fixed income, or living with disabilities, are particularly susceptible.
Fall is the perfect time to make all of those home preparations to ready yourself and your household for all of the challenges that winter brings. It starts with having the protection of the best home insurance, but there is also more that you can do.
With some simple planning ahead, you can not only lower the number of your insurance claims but you can also provide better protection and security from the global coronavirus pandemic that still continues to spread outside our doors.
- Preparing Your Home For The Fall
- Indoor Options
- Outdoor Options
- What Ways Can You Save on Your Insurance This Fall While Protecting Your House?
- Budget-Friendly Support
- Special Considerations For The Pandemic
Preparing Your Home For The Fall
The lower temperatures and falling leaves can make for all-new hazards this fall, so it is important to take all of the necessary precautions to protect your home from the elements. Take the time to thoroughly survey your home to see how you can minimize your risk and protect your home before the cold weather hits.
Coronavirus has also made for new precautions this year. With the pandemic still very much in effect, the forced closure of many offices, facilities and stores makes it hard to shop for your necessary supplies and prepare for impending disasters, such as this year’s busy hurricane season.
A few safety precautions around the home will not only help keep your home safe, but it could also save you money with your insurance company. The fewer claims you file with your provider, the less will you pay in your monthly premiums.
By following our tips for fall home maintenance and preparation, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of new claims this winter and save yourself money on future premiums. It’s an easy way to keep costs low and manageable, especially when living on a fixed income.
- Step up Floor and Path Maintenance
In the coming months, we can expect to spend far more time indoors than we have been during the summer and spring months. This is a great time to clean and reorganize your home to allow for easier mobility. Consider and remove any potential tripping hazards so you can move about as freely as possible. There are some common tripping hazards in particular that are easily fixed, such as cracks in your tile, wrinkled carpet, uneven walkways or even overgrown weeds and trees that can tangle around your feet and cause you to fall. A handyman, maintenance or landscaping service can help take care of these issues quickly and affordably.
- Perform a Home Fire Safety Check.
Fire is one of the top risks that a homeowner faces, but you can help keep your home safe by performing a home fire safety check to assess your property’s risk. This includes things like checking your smoke detectors, testing carbon monoxide alarms and changing your air filters. Also, check your appliances to ensure they are in good working condition and order a professional chimney cleaning to reduce your risk of fire.
- Check Problem Areas For Heat Loss.
There are also issues in the home that can leave room for heat loss. In addition to keeping your home colder than you would like, extra heat can mean enormous heating bills. Instead, take the time to check your home for potential problem areas for heat loss. Common problems can include things like air drafts along the baseboards or where the walls and ceiling meet. Also, check your insulation, inspect your heating and cooling equipment and consider any adjustments needed for ventilation.
- Freshen the Air
With all the time you will be spending indoors, you want to be sure that you are breathing fresh air – especially with COVID lurking around. This is a great time to change your air filters and add a dehumidifier to purify the air as much as possible. While your new air filters can only offer minimal protection against the coronavirus, they can help improve your indoor quality of life. Air filters can also make a significant impact on those with respiratory issues, allowing for safer, cleaner and healthier air for you to breathe.
- Clean Your Gutters.
Don’t forget to check the exterior of your home so it can keep you safe during the coming winter storms. Your gutters can accumulate a lot of leaves and debris over time, causing water to get backed up and potentially flood. By cleaning your gutters ahead of time, you can avoid roof damage later, but it’s commonly suggested to use the services of a professional. The average cost to clean the gutters of a single-story home is between $70 and $200, while a two-story home averages between $90 and $225.
- Insulate Water Pipes Against Freezing Temperatures.
The insulation in your pipes may also be in need of a checkup. If you do not have enough insulation to keep your pipes from freezing, frozen water can create significant amounts of pressure. Your pipes could explode and flood your entire property, causing thousands of dollars worth of damages.
3. Follow the “Golden Rule” for Visitors.
Analyze your yard for hazards and remove them to keep your property as safe as possible for visitors. If a visitor were to slip and fall or hurt themselves on your property, it could result in a claim against your homeowners insurance. Instead, take every precaution to keep your walkways clear and your yard clean so not to cause potential injury to future visitors.
You can download our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist here!
What Ways Can You Save on Your Insurance This Fall While Protecting Your House?
If your roof is looking a little worse for wear, it could be time for some basic renovations for your home. Renovating your roof not only reinforces the structure and safety of your home, but it can also save you a bunch of money on your homeowners insurance. Insurance providers offer special discounts for a new or updated roof since it’s less likely to experience damages which end up in claims in the future.
Security cameras are another way to protect your home. By keeping an extra set of eyes on your property when you’re not there, you can easily limit the risk of burglary and theft without actually having to be there yourself. Installing a security system will allow you to check-in on your property from anywhere in the world and could mean additional support from professional monitoring for those who opt-in for this option. Many insurance providers will also give you an extra discount on your homeowners policy, so be sure to ask before you commit to a policy.
There are many resources out there specifically designed to help seniors living on disability or another form of fixed income.
One popular source of help are the weatherization grants offered by the federal government that enable low-income seniors assistance with their home expenses. Through these programs, you may be able to receive assistance to make the necessary repairs and take the proper precautions to secure your home safety for this winter.
These are some of the popular programs available to help seniors living on a limited income.
- The Weatherization Assistance Program is managed by the Department of Energy and offers decreased energy costs for those who qualify.
- Similarly, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps with heating and cooling expenses, as well as help for energy crises and energy-related renovations.
- Area Agency on Aging is a local program that works with the Older Americans Act to fund home repairs and modifications required for seniors to live safely and comfortably.
- Rebuilding Together also helps fund home modification projects but it is a national non-profit organization.
- If you live on an extremely limited budget, the Department of Agriculture’s Section 504 Home Repair program is designed to help pay for necessary home repairs, improvements and modifications.
Special Considerations For The Pandemic
It is not easy work preparing for the colder months of the year, and it is even harder during a pandemic when heightened health risks and required mask use can make everyday tasks suddenly seem insurmountable. More demanding tasks like cleaning your gutters can be very taxing on the body and even dangerous when not done appropriately.
Given the increased safety risks of coronavirus, many seniors are looking to a local handyman or professional service provider to help with fall preparations around the house. Just be sure to take the right precautions before welcoming people into your home so you can ensure both your safety and theirs.
Before You Invite Someone Into Your House
- Check for stay-at-home orders in your area.
Your local health department can help you determine whether it is safe to perform these services in your community.
- Handle details in advance.
Before the provider arrives for service, try to coordinate all of the details of the job, including payment.
- Limit interaction.
Secure any pets, and ask anyone in the home to avoid the area where the provider will be working so you can limit exposure within the home.
During The Visit
- Check for symptoms.
Before you allow a service provider into your home, ask if that person or anyone in their household has experienced any COVID-19 symptoms. If the answer is yes, immediately cancel service and reschedule at a later time.
- Maintain social distancing.
It may seem silly to do in your own home, but keeping a six foot distance between you and the service provider can help protect you.
- Everyone should wear masks.
To reduce your risk of exposure, everyone in your household and any visiting contractors or service providers should wear an appropriate face covering to limit the transmission of coronavirus.
- Allow for extra ventilation.
Keep air moving by turning on your A/C or opening windows to allow for some fresh air.
After Maintenance Workers Leave
- Use a touchless form of payment.
Coronavirus particles can be carried through money and credit cards, so opt for a digital or online payment wherever possible. If You can call in a payment, choose to pay over the phone so you can avoid risk of infection.
- Disinfect surfaces.
Using an EPA-approved disinfectant, clean all exposed surfaces that may have been impacted by the visit.
- Wash your hands.
Using warm water and soap, wash your hands vigorously for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The Bottom Line
Fall preparation has all kinds of benefits. In addition to the peace of mind that comes with having a safe, secure home, you can also receive exclusive, lucrative discounts that can help take care of those pending fall projects. You can make your home safer for you to enjoy while also minimizing your exposure to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the ultimate win-win.
Your fall preparation checklist may seem like a lot at first, but with the help of public grant programs and experienced, local service providers, you can have your home winter-ready with all the preparation you need to keep you and your household safe from coronavirus. Once the temperatures drop and the winter precipitation comes, you will be grateful that you have a safe and reliable home that is fully secure.
You can download our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist here!