In the middle of summer it’s difficult to think about the cold winter conditions that are just around the corner. Even though the last thing we want to think about while planning summer barbecues and vacations is winterizing our homes, this may be the best time to do just that. Equipping your home to meet the heavy snow loads and extremely low temperatures that cold climates provide ensures that the coming winters feel a little more bearable.

The exterior of the home is constantly in contact with harsh conditions. This is the place to start when ensuring that a home is ready for winter. The roof is vital in handling snow and cold conditions. Roofs with steeper slopes shed snow loads more quickly. Gable roofs most efficiently eliminate snow pile-up. However, the snow load coming off the roof needs to be considered on the ground as well. The pitch of the roof should not cause snow to pile up on walkways, driveways, or over utility boxes. Roofs should be design to direct snow loads to the appropriate places around the home. Covered entrances also offer protection from the snow and cold during cold months, as well as from ice and snow falling from the roof.

Windows are an incredibly important consideration in home design. Windows with an airtight seal reduced drafts and keep energy costs down. Double paned windows reduce energy loss and keep the home’s’ temperature more consistent. Window placement also should be considered. West facing windows let in light during the afternoon hours, which are also the hottest part of the day. This can be good in especially warm climates, but can make rooms incredibly hot or uncomfortable during warmer seasons. East-facing windows let in light in the morning hours, but not much during the rest of the day. In colder Northern climates, South facing windows harvest warmth from the sun without allowing the hot, direct light that west-facing windows provide.

Radiant heat is a great option for homes in snowy climates. Internally, it can reduce heat loss and lower energy use within the home. On the exterior, radiant heating incorporated into driveways and walkways keeps these areas clear of snow and ice. Walkways should be wide and flat, so that they are easy to shovel and don’t provide a tripping hazard when conditions are difficult.

These are just a few things for homeowners to consider when assessing their home for the coming winter. These steps ensure that your home is designed to withstand the cold temperatures and heavy snowfall that our climate is accustomed to.