From Spotlight: Awesomely Easy Projects Perfect for Summer

6 Home Projects to Do Now for a Worry-Free Winter

Upgrades from your deck to your roof could leave you with that snug-in-a-bug feeling.

A red chair covered in snow
Image: T. W. Brinton/Shutterstock

Winter is so. Rough. On. Your. Home.

So jump at the chance to do these home improvement projects now — when you've still got sun and warm temps — for a home that's gorgeous, warm, and worry-free when winter does come. Vitamin D boost included.

#1 Upgrade Your Deck So It Won't Get Slippery — or Rot

Your deck hates winter. Like, even more than you do.

Wintry weather soaks it, freezes it, and makes it swell and shrink repeatedly.

It's a recipe for wood rot — and an ER visit if you step through the decayed part (hello, co-pay). Even if you come out unscathed, it'll cost you $8 to $20 a square foot to replace with just basic treated wood.

So why not be proactive and do something to protect your deck, and while you're at it, make it prettier and more enjoyable for the rest of your summer?

  • Stain it with a gorgeous color to shield against water, mildew, and harsh sun.
  • Give it new post toppers (solar ones are a nice touch).
  • Add some planters for all season color.
  • Maybe even screen your deck and enjoy it bug-free the rest of this summer and fall?

#2 Light Up Your Landscape

You probably barely escaped a lawsuit when your grouchy neighbor (not the fun one) slipped on your dark driveway last January.

Avoid a replay (that could cost you lost work and soaring medical bills) on those how-is-it-dark-already winter evenings.

Some ways to use outdoor lighting:

  • Along driveways, sidewalks, porch and deck rails
  • Motion lights above the garage
  • Rope lights on deck and porch railings
  • Uplighting for trees and other features

LEDs last a long time and don't use much energy. But they do require hard-wiring, which could require an electrician. 

Solar lights don't need wiring, but the light can be less bright.

#3 Switch Your Fireplace to Gas for Lower Heating Bills

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Gas bill has you paying through the nose . . .

Science lesson: Most of the warm air from your beloved holiday hearth goes right out the chimney instead of into your room.

But you can reverse that climb in your heating bill by converting it to a gas fireplace insert.

Why fireplace inserts are better than wood:

  • You can turn them on and off with a remote.
  • They'll work even when the power goes out (great during snowstorms, and possibly saving you on hotel bills).
  • They really do help lower heating bills.
  • You can even program some of them to turn on when your house reaches a certain temp.

A fireplace insert will totally revolutionize your winter — but it won't come cheap. An insert is an investment of about $3,000 to $6,500 installed, says Charlie Turner, president of Cricket on the Hearth, Inc., in Rochester, N.Y., "but you'll save money by using your furnace less and zone heating your living space better."

#4 Replace a Leaky Roof With a Pretty One (That'll Keep Winter Out — Forever)

A new roof isn't nearly as fun as buying that art deco dining table you've had your eye on. But then, maybe you haven't seriously seen metal roofs, which come in some pretty cool colors. It could totally transform your home.

Metal roofs:

  • Never die. Correctly installed, they'll last as long as your house.
  • Have great resale value because they last so long.
  • Weigh less than other roofs (less stress on your home's structure).
  • Install faster than shingles because they come in sheets.
  • Shrug off heavy snow; it simply slides off, never sticking around.
  • Come in brighter colors than their muted competition.

They do cost more than traditional shingles, but if you live in an area with heavy snowstorms, and you plan to stick around for awhile, the worry-free nature of them is really sweet.

#5 Wash Your Windows to Let the Sun in

You're spoiled now, but think about how you'll be salivating for sunlight in about six months.

Do yourself a sunny favor and clean your windows inside and out to bring in warm winter sunshine. You'll save money on heating bills, brighten your house, and lift your mood.

Doing it now gives you a chance to spot potential issues such as cracked windows, a carpenter bee infestation, or warped siding — and still have time to fix them before temps drop. 

If in your heart, you know you're not going to do that (your heart always knows), a low-hassle option is to take the time in summer to book a pro in the fall — before they get swamped and won't even answer your calls.

#6 DIY Some Window Treatments to Keep It Cozy at Night

Wait, didn't we just suggest allowing in the sunshine? Yes, so plan to keep your shades open during the day, but once the sun goes down, you'll want to keep heat inside and freezing air out.

There's a pretty neat DIY project called a Kume curtain that originated in Chile (how cool, is that?), which solves that problem.

They're kind of like shades — but with four insulating layers that trap air, keeping your room toasty. And since you're DIYing them, you can make them as fun and flattering as you like — while enjoying the last of summer's warmth.

Related: 9 Mood-Lifting Ideas for Your Home When Winter Gets You Down

Author photo of writer Stacey Freed
Stacey Freed

Stacey Freed writes about homes, design, remodeling, and construction for online and print national trade and consumer publications, including "Better Homes & Gardens." Previously, she was a senior editor at "Remodeling" magazine. Follow Stacey on Twitter.