Baby It’s Cold Outside

Ways to Winterize Your Home

Jack Frost is about to start nipping at your nose, which means it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your home for the snowy months ahead!  Woe is winter for the unprepared homeowner, so don’t get caught out in the cold. 

Doors & Windows.  You see the commercials on TV, and there’s almost always an advertisement in the newspaper telling you how much you need new doors and windows.  What’s all the hype about?  There’s a great deal to be gained from replacing old, inefficient doors and windows.  They are the primary way your home retains heat, and the proof is in your utility bills once you’ve replaced drafty ones.  If you don’t have the money for full replacements, simply seal the drafts with clear plastic.  For smaller leaks, use caulk putty to fill gaps in the interior and exterior side of all drafty windows and doors.  If you have a particularly drafty window in a high visibility area, consider insulated curtains to help prevent the loss of warm air.  As for doors, consider a storm door for particularly leaky exits, and use rubber stripping to catch drafts under the door.

Hot Water Heater.  It makes sense that it’s more difficult for your hot water heater to work properly in the chilly months.  So be a good homeowner and help it out!  Insulate the hot water lines around the hot water heater, and reduce the temperature to a “warm” setting, around 120 degrees F.  Or give your hot water heater “a hug” by blanketing it with faced fiberglass insulation (but not if you have a gas-powered heater).  Finally, install a timer on your water heater so it isn’t heating a whole tank of water when you don’t need it.  And if it’s time to get a new water heater, go tankless (it’s much more efficient). 

Under the Home.  For those of you who saw my Facebook post last week with the giant bear crawling out from under the house, take heed. Bears and other “critters” may seek warmth and shelter in your crawl space, so be sure to secure and lock that space. While you’re taking a peek under your home, look to see if there any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house.  If so, insulate them!  You can also insulate cold water pipes to prevent them from freezing during freezing temps.  One quick trip under the house now might save you a lot of trouble later!

Furnace.  Let’s talk about the furnace.  Have you had it checked out lately? Is it running properly?  It’s always a good idea to have it serviced and evaluated, and more importantly, replaced if it’s not in good working order.  Simple things like replacing your filter every three months is part of preventative care, and should be maintained by the homeowner.  Do the dampers need adjustments from summer to winter weather? Making sure your cold air returns aren’t blocked also allows your furnace to operate more efficiently.  

Thermostat. An easy change you can make now (that would help for many winters to come) is replacing your traditional thermostat with a programmable one that allows you to adjust temperatures – and reduce heating costs- when family members aren’t home.  Simple adjustments like uncovering south-facing windows to allow sunlight in the room help bring warmth into the home on chilly days. Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean so airflow is not restricted. Again, easy solutions to keeping the warm air inside during the winter months.

Insulation.  Patch up any insulation that needs repair, and consider insulating spaces like the door above the pull-down attic.  Remember, insulation is there to keep temperatures steady, so keep insulation in good shape.  Make sure it hasn’t fallen from its intended spot in the attic or crawl space.

Fireplace.   Of course you want to build a fire and cozy up in its warmth, but don’t forget to close the damper when you’re done!  Otherwise, you’re allowing warm air to exit the home, right up the chimney!  Did you know they make inserts that direct the fireplace heat into your house instead of allowing it to waft up the chimney?  Check those out at your local home maintenance store.  

Outside.    Before it gets too cold, take a stroll around your house.  Are there any gaps in your siding?  Is your dryer vent covered? Is your air conditioning unit still in the window from this summer’s heat wave?  If so, make some repairs to areas that might allow cold air into the home, and warm air out; and remove window units if you use them.  Finally, if you are lacking shrubbery at the base of your house, consider planting a few evergreen trees close to your home to block wind; an easy, yet simple solution to keeping warm!  

Finally, if there are rooms or closets in your home that go unused during the winter months, by all means, shut the door.  There is never a need to heat a space that’s not being used!

Preventative maintenance and thinking ahead are always the best tools in combating cold temps.  Winterizing your home helps to maintain it, so when you’re ready to sell, it’s much more marketable to potential buyers.   

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