Checklist for closing vacation rental house for winter

How to Winterize Your Home (Free Vacation Rental Checklist)

Once the leaves start falling and the temperature dropping, it’s that time of year again: time to prepare your vacation rental for the winter season.

For many vacation rental property owners, this is the time of year when work starts to wind down. Peak season is over, bookings are thinning out, and you can (finally) take a well-deserved break.

But before that can happen, it’s absolutely essential to first winterize your property.

Read on to learn what winterization means and why it’s important, or simply download our home winterization checklist below to jump right into the steps involved!

What does it mean to winterize your home?

Home winterization has a couple different accepted meanings.

Most commonly, winterization refers to the process of safeguarding your home against weather-related problems that could occur during the winter months. This is important for all property owners, whether you live in your home or rent it out.

However, for those who have summer homes or vacation rentals that are closed in the winter, winterizing can also refer to preparing a house to be vacant during the winter months. This involves making sure it will be secure in the absence of residents in addition to preparing it for colder weather.

For vacation rental owners, whether or not you close up shop for the winter comes down to seasonal factors such as local weather conditions, demand, and occupancy rates.

Winterize summer home

And of course, the type of preparation required for winterization largely depends on where your property is located. Properties in hurricane zones will need to have storm protection and more inclusive insurance coverage than those in milder areas. On the other hand, properties with extremely low temperatures will need to implement more anti-freezing methods such as pipe care and water drainage.

Why is it important to winterize your home?

Winterizing your home can pay off big by preventing costly damage, increasing your energy efficiency, and protecting your investment.

Prevent frozen pipes and other damage

Low enough temperatures can lead to frozen pipes. If this happens, the best-case scenario is that you lose water for a day or two. But if your pipes burst after freezing, you’ll be looking at a massive leak and costly repairs.

Fortunately, winterization can reduce the likelihood of frozen pipes simply by keeping your home warmer. This involves measures ranging from keeping your thermostat at 50º F to adding insulation around pipes.

And the same goes for other damage that colder weather conditions can cause. Simple winterization steps such as, say, covering your pool can prevent a lot of damage in the long run.

Avoid complicated winter repairs

Which brings us to our next point, which is that repairs are simply much harder to make in winter conditions.

For example, imagine trying to replace shingles on your roof when it’s frozen over. Or unclogging gutters that are full of snow.

Aerial view of homes covered in snow

Fixing small problems before the weather turns not only saves the added hassle (and cost) of making repairs during the winter, but may even prevent them from turning into much bigger issues because of the poorer conditions.

Reduce energy costs

Energy bills are a pain point for all property owners, especially in the winter.

Fortunately, increasing your energy efficiency can go a long way toward reducing costs. And winterization is one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency!

Insufficient insulation, loose seals around doors and windows, damaged siding, and the like can all contribute to air leaks and reduce heat retention in your home. Repairing these issues before the cold weather sets in, on the other hand, will naturally keep your home warmer and increase energy efficiency.

Increase security

If you plan to leave your home vacant over the winter months, another benefit of winterization is increasing your security.

Leaving a property vacant for an extended period can attract (the wrong kind of) attention. Taking simple measures during the winterization process is recommended to prevent burglary and other mishaps.

How much does it cost to winterize a home?

The average cost to winterize a home comes in at $250 according to Angi (formerly Angie’s List). However, winterization costs can range from a mere $65 to as much as $1,000 depending on how much work needs to be done.

Starting to think you might skip winterization, after all? Remember that however much this process costs, failing to winterize will likely cost much more. When simple fixes and tasks are left undone, they turn into expensive repairs.

What to consider when winterizing your home

Preparing summer homes for peak season is pretty straightforward: air out the bedding, clean the pool, stock the property with beach toys, and so on.

What’s necessary to prepare for the colder months is a little less clear.

As we mentioned, the weather is a huge factor in preparing your vacation rental for winter. But it’s not the only thing you’ll need to consider.

You’re not just prepping for changing temperatures. Your goals should also include keeping utility expenses low, security high, and any other measures for maintaining your property during its low season.


For beach towns and highly touristic destinations, fraud and burglary run rampant throughout the year.

Worse yet is the off-season. It’s well-known that vacation rentals sit vacant during the winter months, making them easy targets for stealing furniture, electronics, or really anything of value inside the home.

Close-up of a security camera


One of your top priorities for the winter season should be to properly secure your property from unwelcome visitors. For example, you might consider installing:

  • Automatic lights to make it look like someone’s home
  • Motion-activated cameras that turn on and alert you when activity is detected
  • An alarm system that notifies local authorities in the case of a break-in
  • Additional smart gadgets for vacation rentals that you can power from your device


If your property isn’t bringing in any revenue during the winter months, you’ll want to keep your costs as low as possible. After all, energy bills are coming directly out of your pocket!

Unfortunately, it’s not impossible to eliminate your expenses completely. However, you have lots of options to cut down the costs of your expenses during the dormant months.

The biggest opportunity for savings is going to be your monthly utilities.

You don’t want to completely turn off the heating, as freezing temperatures could damage the integrity of your flooring, structure, and pipes. Best practice is to keep the thermostat at a lower temperature of around 50º Fahrenheit.

Also, ensure that your pipes are well-insulated and consider leaving the most vulnerable ones (those in places like attics, basements, and exterior walls) dripping to prevent them from freezing and bursting.

Lastly, unplug the electronics and appliances around the house. If you’ve completely cleaned out the refrigerator, go ahead and unplug it. Just be sure to add towels to the base in case of melted water and baking soda to eliminate any orders.


The best way to eliminate problems during the winter? Prevent them from happening in the first place!

There are numerous checks and inspections you should do before leaving the house vacant. In addition to making sure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly, check for:

  • Fire hazards
  • Cracks, openings, or holes from the exterior
  • Termite, pest, and rodents
  • Mold, mildew, and asbestos

Of course, the extent of the inspections you need to make depends largely on your property. If your property is below sea level, it might be more important to prioritize water damage checks. For properties in highly wooded areas, on the other hand, termite damage might be a bigger concern.

It’s up to you to assess the needs of your vacation rental to adequately protect it for the season ahead.

Alternatives to winterizing your home

The thought of closing your rental’s doors for months on end can be unnerving. The unknowns,

duration, and lack of income can lead to uncomfortable questions about how your property is faring.

If you have concerns, know that there are alternatives to keeping your property vacant during the winter, such as the following.


Services are available to help you look after your rental and ensure that everything remains in working order. If you’re planning to leave house plants or anything that requires a bit more tending to, this might be a good option.

Within local Facebook communities or groups, you’ll also find that there are people willing to trade housesitting for free accommodation. If you’ve found trusted homesitters, you could exchange your property for their services.

Periodic checks

If you don’t want to open up your vacation rental to strangers during the downtime, you might want to consider planning periodic checks on your property.

For property owners that live relatively close to their vacation rental, this may be the best option. Rather than go to the trouble of fully shutting off everything and hunkering down this winter, you can simply visit the property at least once a month and keep in contact with surrounding neighbors in case the unexpected happens.

Winterize Vacation Rental

Rent it!

If you’re still feeling the rush of the summer season, keep the momentum going by renting out your property during the winter. With the right planning and marketing, the low season doesn’t have to be so scary.

There are a number of ways you can attract reservations during the winter months, such as marketing to digital nomads, offering extended stay discounts, or partnering with local businesses to create winter packages for tourists.

Remember, too, that advertising on multiple platforms, as well as your own vacation rental website, helps you to increase your chances of keeping your reservation calendar full.

Download our home winterization checklist

Ready to start winterizing?

Whether you’re closing your doors for the low season or simply want to prepare your vacation rental for winter guests, download our house winterization checklist for step-by-step instructions on how to winterize a home.

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