Winterizing a Home for the Elderly

For the elderly, winter is not always all about pretty snowflakes and warming cups of cocoa.

In fact, it can be a very overwhelming time as normal daily tasks become harder and more tedious, worries like frozen pipes arise and the effort to keep the house warm and safe demands constant time and attention.

If you live in an area in which winter is a real worry, here are some simple tips for winterizing that you can start working on now and continue to implement all season long to ensure safety and comfort for your elderly.

Plan for De-Icing

Make sure that you have a set plan in place for keeping the doorway, driveway and sidewalk shoveled and de-iced at all times. Whether you’ll be hiring someone or you yourself will be in charge of it, take care of the scheduling before winter sets in and your options fill up. If possible, find a back-up plan as well in case the on-call person can’t make it for any reason. Purchase all necessary tools now and stock up on de-icer this fall before the winterization products undergo their normal winter price hikes.

Insulate All Around

By simply insulating the windows, you can drastically reduce the heating costs of a house and make it easier for the elderly to maintain a constant, comfortable temperature. A window insulation kit or even some extra thick coverings over the window are affordable and easy to do. Make sure that you have draft blockers available for all doors and that any major holes or cracks are sealed shut with caulk.

Timed Thermostat

Programmable thermostat

Eliminate the need to remember when to turn the thermostat on/off/down by installing a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to easily set the central heating system to turn down at night, up in the morning and on and off for any set times the elderly will be out of the house. You’ll be able to help them efficiently cut down their energy bill without any extra effort on their part. And, because you will control the temperature yourself and can lock the settings, you can eliminate any potential danger from accidental temperature changes that would be too cold or too hot for an extended period of time.

Portable Heater

The elderly will likely need and desire extra sources of heat beyond a central heating system set to room temperature. If this is the case, it can be warmer, as well as more cost and energy efficient, to provide small portable space heaters that they can use in close proximity to themselves. This also allows them to heat just one room a few degrees warmer than standard room temperature instead of the whole house. You will want to make sure to check for the UL stamp (Underwriters Laboratories) guaranteeing it meets safety standards as well as to ensure that it has an automatic shut-off feature in case it gets accidentally tipped over.

Check & Clean the Furnace

Make sure the furnace is in proper working condition and that it gets thoroughly cleaned before winter sets in. Cleaning the furnace can help with efficiency and cut energy use and cost. Plan to change the furnace filters once every month during the winter season to continue to keep efficiency high and to prevent against possible fire danger caused by dirty filters.

Freelancer Amber O’Connell is passionate about helping families live healthier, more comfortable lives. She’s currently promoting a safe, elderly-friendly portable gas heater for Air & Water.

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