A Snowbird’s Guide to Maintaining Your Florida Winter Home

As October comes to a close with November right on its heels, those who are lucky enough to own one of the seasonal energy efficient homes in Florida are hankering to get to their much warmer part-time residence, if they haven’t already done so. Before we know it, winter will start to make its impact felt – long before the coldest season’s official start date of Dec. 21. With this in mind, if you count yourself among the snowbirds who spend half the year in the Sunshine State, you should at the very least start making your travel arrangements and packing. 

“Winter homes in Florida can require certain special considerations.”

Yet the most genuinely pressing reason to get down to your winter home a good while before winter actually begins is for the well-being of the house in question. If any weather events have dealt it a few blows – remember, Hurricane Irma was just a few months ago – you don’t want to be making those repairs or having them done professionally while you’re supposed to be enjoying your time in the sun. Better to take care of them quickly, so you can make the most out of the months you spend escaping the colder months being experienced by those up north!

In the interest of helping you do exactly that, let’s take a look at some of the issues you need to address regarding your winter residence as soon as possible:

Clean up the exterior 
Upon your arrival in Florida, assess how the outside of your house looks, particularly the yard. It may not be the cornucopia of fallen foliage that a New England house would be if you didn’t tend to its yard, but you’ll still probably have some autumn detritus on the lawn. On its blog, Deerfield Beach-based firm People’s Trust Insurance recommended tackling dead leaves on the lawn and in the gutter first. It’s a task you can likely handle on your own, and clean gutters help deter exterior damage that your home would otherwise endure from the one weather hazard you can’t duck in Florida – the rain.

As the winter progresses, snowbirds who consider themselves amateur gardeners need to take certain precautions as well, particularly those in northernmost Florida. Placing coverings over the flowers and plants each evening prevents damage from overnight Florida frosts, and watering just before sundown with warmer water benefits the soil, according to Argos Homewatch. 

Getting ready for your Florida winter residenceSeasonal homes aren’t totally immune from winter weather – not even in South Florida.

Mind the roof 
Even in certain parts of South Florida, HomeCarePro noted that the winter months can occasionally bring ice or sleet, and heavy rain is all but guaranteed. As such, any necessary roof repairs should be another issue that you tackle early on in your seasonal stay. While cleaning your gutters, keep an eye out for any damage to the tiles or shingles, and make doubly sure by checking for interior leaks immediately under the roof. If anything surfaces, get on the horn to a professional immediately.

Take stock of your appliances 
Hopefully having sorted out exterior issues, you can make your way inside and check on the interior. A number of your appliances will have a major role to play in your in-home comfort, so let’s begin with those:

  • If you have one or more window-mounted air conditioners – as opposed to a central HVAC unit that covers all bases – make sure they’re unplugged, drained and removed from the window spaces in which they usually reside.
  • In fact, Howard Services recommended unplugging any and all appliances that aren’t going to be used on any regular basis during the summer. Whether they’re turned on or not, they still end up wasting energy and adding to your electric bill. 
  • Take a look at your thermostat. If it’s set to anything above 68 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s way too warm. Bring it down to at least 68 degrees – maybe 66, if you can stand it. Just be sure not to go any lower than 65. Doing so, even in Florida, allows for the possibility of pipes freezing and bursting, an eventuality that absolutely no one wants to deal with. (Investing in a programmable thermostat to manage these periodic temperature changes for you may be worth your while.)
  • Finally, if you have ceiling fans, be sure to check on the direction in which they’re spinning. You want clockwise for the winter, as this causes cool air to rise to the epicenter of the fan and knock the warmer air (which, as elementary school science class told us, has already risen) loose to disperse throughout the room and make it that much more comfortable. 

Insulation, doors and windows
As pointed out by Popular Mechanics, approximately 7 to 12 percent of in-home heating loss comes from bleed-through taking place in the smallest gaps around your doors and windows. So you’ll want to immediately survey these spots for any damage, especially to the weather stripping. 

Despite Florida’s winters being milder than most, the wind and rain can still make their way in if your have poor insulation. To learn more about home window replacement options, contact NewSouth Windows right away! 

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