Winterizing Your Home

House in the winter that has been winterized

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO WINTERIZING YOUR HOME

As the year ends, temperatures slowly decrease, the weather gets colder, and winter steadily makes its way towards us. For all winter lovers out there, the best weather season is about to start. But all homeowners know there is a long road ahead of them, where they must get ready for the coldest months of the year. Before the winter weather is here, you must take your time to winterize your home: prevent wind drafts getting through your windows or doors, protect your home from snow and most importantly to start making changes to heat your house in a cost-efficient manner. It seems like a lot, but don’t panic! Here’s a step by step guide on how to get ready for the freezing weather.

1. Schedule an energy audit.

The very first thing you should do is an energy audit of your house. A few utility companies do them for free and others will do it for money. This is the best way to know where your house might be energy or heat deficient. The professionals will look all over to try to find where the cold weather might be slipping through the cracks inside your house and where you might be using more energy than necessary to heat your home. If you are not too keen doing it at first, you can do it after you finish winterizing your home to check if you have done a good job.

2. Take care of your windows.

Homeowner closing windows and checking to see if they are sealed, prepped for the winter

The cold air draft’s greatest ally is an ill-prepared window. If you have single-pane windows anywhere in your house, you are letting the cold air in almost as much as if you had no windows at all. You need to install insulated glass windows or storm windows to prevent the cold from getting in. If insulated glass windows are out of the question, you should at least weather-strip your windows to reinforce them against winter climate. For a description of different window types visit our post on windows.

3. Follow up with your doors.

Once your windows are taken care of, the cold weather will try to enter your house through your doors. Even if you don’t leave the door open, the cold air draft might slip through the cracks. Weather-strip every exterior door you have in your house. Inspect for air leaks your doors might have. If weather-stripping your door seems too complicated -doing things for the first time can get confusing- you should ask how to do it at your local hardware shop.

4. Prevent any problems with your pipes.

Pipe that is cracked and needs to be repaired before winter

Pipes can be a tricky thing, especially during the winter. They are fundamental to your home’s wellbeing and they can easily break during the coldest months of the year. If you leave your pipes unchecked, a small piece of ice can create enough problems to completely wreck your pipes — and it’s impossible to know if you have ice in there until you either checked the pipes or you realize the pipes are broken. Walk around your house and check all the pipes you have. Seal any cracks you may find. Your main objective is to prevent any cold air from getting in, freezing your water and wreaking havoc.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you may have to replace entire sections of piping which may require hiring a contractor or disposing of the materials yourself. This will more than likely require a rolloff dumpster. Read more.

5. Understand the cold truth about your fireplace.

The fireplace is a great place to get warm and share great family moments, right? Well, it’s half right. The fireplace can be great for family reunions, but it doesn’t help to heat your house if it’s not properly taken care of. When you are using your fireplace, the area directly related to it might be heating up, but the rest of the house might be getting colder. To avoid any unnecessary problems, you need to check for cracks on your fireplace’s brickwork. You should also install a cap on top of the chimney, to avoid cold drafts from getting in through there.

6. Make the right thermostat changes.

One of the best investments you can make before winter is a smart thermostat. It will help you regulate your temperature without much of an effort. The only thing you have to do is program it to lower the temperature when you are away from home and you’ll be saving money already. What’s better, most smart thermostats can program themselves to change the temperature to obtain the most efficient results. Some of them also can be programmed to heat the areas you and your family use the most, avoiding energy waste in rooms you have no use for.

7. Replace your furnace filters.

Homeowner replacing a furnace filter

You need to replace your filters every two to three months during the winter. Clogged up filters will put unnecessary stress on your furnace, making it harder -and more expensive- to heat your house. Dirt in your furnace filters will accumulate over time, making it impossible to efficiently heat your house, unless you periodically take care of this issue.

8. Fix your fans.

Warm air goes up, in direction to the ceiling. If you have ceiling fans, they probably have a switch you should use to put your ceiling fan either in summer or winter mode. If you haven’t done it already, turn your ceiling fan into winter mode. That way, your ceiling fan will reverse its rotating motion making warm air travel downwards instead of staying up.

9. Cover any cracks you may find.

Check your walls, both from the inside and the outside, and cover any cracks you might see or find. Cold air drafts will commonly get inside your house through faulty windows or cracked doors, but it will get in any way it can — your walls included. Make sure this isn’t the case by filling up any cracks, holes or leaks you may have.

10. Finish at the top.

Once you are done with the bottom part of your house, it’s time to reinforce the top. Most houses have their attic winterized already, but it’s best to make sure if everything up there is ready for winter. Head up there and you’ll quickly realize if it’s cold enough to get to work. If your attic isn’t winterized, insulate it with different materials and make sure you weather-strip any windows you may have there as well.