How to Winterize Your Vacation Home for Happy Guests This Season

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
August 25, 2023

Snowy driveways, cozy firelit evenings, frost on the window panes, hot cocoa on the stove. 

To your guests, these make for a charming winter escape. But for unprepared vacation rental owners, they can translate to icy danger, freezing-cold drafts, and stressful seasonal headaches. 

That’s why knowing how to winterize a vacation home is so important. By avoiding common issues with some proactive care, you’ll be able to welcome guests year-round and boost your potential to capture off-season bookings.

If you’re stressing about where to start, use these seasonal cleaning tasks and tips for getting amenities cold weather-ready for winter prep in all the key places  — all while you continue to lock in five-star guest experiences. 

In This Article:
Take Care of Seasonal Cleaning Tasks
Stock Up on Cold-Weather Essentials
Perform Winter Maintenance and Prep
Consider Upgrades That Boost Winter Efficiencies
Learn How Much It Costs to Winterize a House

1. Take Care of Seasonal Cleaning Tasks 

Clean living room with fireplace and a potted plant by the window after winterizing a vacation home

Cleaning is key to your property’s success year-round, as surveyed guests rank cleanliness as the most important aspect in a vacation rental — and these comprehensive cleaning checklists can help establish easy and efficient standardization.

But what about the fireplace that’s gone unused for most of the year? Or those gutters that are now filled with autumn leaves? To winterize a vacation home and prep for cold-weather rental guests, you’ll want to task your cleaning or maintenance team with the essential to-dos that may have been put on ice during warmer months: 

  • Clean gas fireplaces so the ignition switch and coupler start properly
  • Remove soot and residue from wood-burning fireplace flues 
  • Clean outdoor fire pits and remove flammable items like leaves and twigs
  • Clear gutters of leaves and debris 
  • Wash all the heavy comforters and blankets needed for chillier nights

Bonus Tip: Carpets should be cleaned every 12 to 18 months, so this isn’t a requirement. But with guests spending more time snuggled up inside, the change of season is a good opportunity to keep carpets pristine.

2. Stock Up on Cold-Weather Essentials

Prepare your home for winter with cold-weather vacation rental essentials like these cozy blankets.

It’s all too common for guests to get a taste of winter weather during their stay. Knowing how to winterize a vacation home will help you prepare for an icy driveway, piles of snow, or the it-looks-pretty-but-my-car-is-buried feeling. 

For these scenarios, it’s important to equip maintenance teams (and guests!) with winter-specific supplies. Take a pre-season inventory of what’s needed to combat the elements, then stockpile items like:

  • Sturdy shovels
  • Heavy-duty brooms 
  • Ice melt or sand for walkways 
  • Firewood
  • Car scrapers 
  • Extra batteries and lightbulbs
  • Flashlights
  • Extra blankets

Bonus Tip: Level up your coziness by offering plush robes, hot chocolate supplies, and hand warmers to welcome your guests with extra comfort. These little touches stay top of mind when your guests leave good reviews about their stay!

3. Perform Winter Maintenance and Prep

Person testing water from a faucet to winterize a vacation home

Before the chill sets in, hire certified professionals (or tap your property maintenance team where applicable) to verify important systems are functioning properly, inspect windows, and winterize outdoor amenities like pools, hot tubs, and sprinkler systems. 

Here’s how the pros can help you winterize a cabin, beach house, ski property, or any other vacation rental:

  • Inspect your HVAC system. A technician can make sure the heater is working properly first by running thermostat tests and tracking the system’s response. Then, they’ll turn off circuit breakers to check for loose electrical connections. Finally, they’ll clean air filters, eliminate dirt and debris, and inspect for drain clogs.

  • Assess door and window frames. Look for areas where heat might escape. Identify and caulk any cracks on the interior and exterior, and confirm weather stripping is intact.

  • Winterize the sprinkler system. Shut off your water and open the valves to drain the pipes. (Any water trapped inside can freeze over the winter months and create larger irrigation issues.) Wrap any above-ground piping and sprinkler heads in foam insulation to protect them long-term. 

  • Service your hot tub. Hot tubs are one of the most-booked amenities. To keep yours running for winter guests, drain the water first. Remove and clean the filters before refilling. Invest in a well-insulated cover to moderate the water temperature and keep heat from escaping. As guests come and go, keep water levels consistent and have ice melt or sand on hand for the surrounding pathways.

  • Winterize your pool. Whether it’s an inground or above-ground pool, proper closure makes for a much easier opening come springtime. Remove any pool toys, accessories, and ladders, clean and skim the pool thoroughly to eliminate debris, and add winterizing chemicals — like an algaecide or pH-balancer — to avoid growths or contamination. (Pro tip: many pool companies offer curated winterizing kits that contain all the supplies you’ll need.) Finally, invest in a well-insulated pool cover. If you want to keep a heated pool open, you’ll need to have your pump running constantly to avoid freezing.

Bonus Tip: Have a priority service partner on-call for the winter. You never want to be without a reliable contractor who can address emergencies like heating repairs, snow removal, or a hot tub snafu. (And if you work with Evolve, we can help you find the perfect fit.)

4. Consider Upgrades That Boost Winter Efficiencies

Lower the cost to winterize your house with a smart thermostat, shown here.

It may add to how much it costs to winterize your house, but investing in “smart” technology can be really valuable if you’re managing your property remotely. Simplify the winterizing process, save money and energy, give your home an eco-friendly edge, and handle issues without deploying your on-site contact with these tech improvements: 

  • Smart thermostats: Program the heat so it warms the house to a comfortable temperature an hour before guests arrive (and cools slightly when empty to keep energy costs lower).

  • Smart water sensors: Detect leaks in the house before a guest does, and prevent serious water damage caused by undiscovered issues.

  • Smart locks: Track visitors, allow keyless entry for your guests, and prevent break-ins with added security.

How Much Does It Cost to Winterize a Vacation Rental?

The cost to winterize a vacation home can range widely depending on what tasks need to be done. Basics can often be taken care of on your own at a more affordable price point. For example, replacing filters, clearing gutters, and installing a smart thermostat can all be done yourself for under $65

Any winterizing that requires a pro is likely to cost over $65, depending on the complexity of the service. Draining a swimming pool, inspecting a chimney, or checking your HVAC system are all best completed by a professional, and can cost anywhere from $250-$350 per service. 

There are also optional winterization efforts that can add up, like trimming tree limbs, replacing or flushing boilers, and adding pipe insulation. While you likely won’t need to address these every year, it’s good to take a look at bigger winterization investments every so often to keep your home in good condition. 

The big takeaway: routinely winterizing your rental is worth the cost, as it can prevent severe damage and more expensive repairs down the line (not to mention keep your guests safe, comfortable, and ready to give a five-star review).

Make Winter Easy with Evolve

Preparing to winterize your cabin, beach rental, or vacation home won’t feel like a bone-chilling task with the right plan of action, but there’s so much more to consider on your path to vacation rental success. Luckily, we have all the tips and strategies you need to help make five-star service and strong performance a summer breeze year-round.

Whether you’re looking to stay well stocked, go eco-friendly, or create comfortable outdoor living spaces, Evolve has tons of resources to help your vacation rental thrive.

Let us take the hardest, time-consuming tasks off your plate with our vacation rental management services. From promoting your listing across top booking sites to creating custom revenue optimization strategies, our experts are here to help your vacation rental business thrive.

Vacation Rental Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

We’ll help your home reach its potential, with unique resources and pricing strategies that skyrocket your success.

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