17 Easy Steps Can Take Today Winterizing Home
Winter is a tough season to overcome. While winter has its perks, like beautiful landscapes and building snowmen, winter also causes many bills to skyrocket and makes roads dangerous to drive on. With the frigid temperatures and wind gusts, your home faces damage and your wallet faces ruin.
Winter may be tough to get through, but you’re not alone. Here, we’ve compiled a list of 17 easy steps you can take today make your home more winter-friendly and energy efficient during the winter months.
- Lose The Dead Weight By Cutting Off Unused Rooms
This is one of the easiest ways you can make your home warmer and more energy efficient during the winter. If you have guest bedrooms—or, for that matter, any room in your house that you aren’t using on a regular basis—you can shut the doors to the rooms and close off their vents. This will push the heated air from your furnace into the rooms you use regularly. In the rooms you do use regularly, remember to close your closets. Those spaces don’t need to be heated, and there is no reason to waste energy on them.
- Stop Air Leaks By Fixing Windows
Windows provide some of the best lighting and breeze into our homes during the summer—but unfortunately, if your windows aren’t insulated, that breeze will continue right into the winter. If your windows are on their last leg, it’s well worth the savings in energy costs to fix them.
However, if you can’t replace your windows and need just a little extra coverage, you should invest in clear plastic wrap or bubble wrap to put on your windows. Bubble wrap is especially good for windows because the air in the bubbles adds extra insulation. You should purchase a window or patio door insulating kit online or from a local hardware store to do this, and then you can add bubble wrap around the edges. Additional tools you may need to complete your project include a box cutter or good pair of scissors.
Also, be aware that just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the sun is gone for good. You can leave your south facing window curtains open during the day, because the sunlight that comes in through the shrink wrap will heat your home. Just make sure you use a compass to figure out which windows are south facing so that you don’t leave the curtains open and end up wasting more energy.
- Make Your Room Feng Shui And Eliminate Heat Loss
Moving large pieces of furniture up against the outer walls of your home is a great way to winterize your home, especially if you’re in an apartment where you can’t make major changes. Large gusts of wind can get even through the siding in your home and through the drywall, so moving the large pieces of furniture against the wall will help stop those gusts of wind in their tracks. Examples of pieces you could move include hutches, couches, dressers, and chests.
- Fill In Those Cracks So Cold Air Doesn’t Leak
Whether it’s under your door or by your window, cracks are one of the nastiest ways winter creeps into your home. Drafts can render your heating useless. That’s all the more reason not to allow drafts to persist in your home.
You can use incense to identify areas where air is leaking into your home. This isn’t just a product for hippies who can’t afford candles or air freshener. On a particularly windy day, light a stick of incense and run it along your baseboards and windows. If the smoke’s path changes or the spark flares up, you just found a drafty spot. Mark it with a piece of tape.
Depending on where your leaks are coming from, you might need to use different methods to plug them up. For instance, you wouldn’t use caulk on doorframe or rubber stripping on a window.
If you have leaks around your window, purchase caulking and a caulk gun from your local hardware store. You will want to choose a caulk based on your personal needs—for instance, silicone caulk is particularly resistant to water, but can’t be painted over; acrylic caulk resists temperature changes, but isn’t as durable. Research different caulks or ask a store associate to recommend one for your situation. You should scrape off old caulking before adding on the new, and then begin caulking. After putting the caulk in the caulk gun and cutting off the tip, you just need to press the gun to the edge of the window and fill in the gap. Then, remove the excess caulk with a towel or rag.
If there is a draft coming in under your doors, you should invest in a draft stopper, which is essentially a long “sock” that you can push up against your doors to block out the draft.
One source of drafts in your home that you may not think of at first is the fireplace. If your flu isn’t closing properly and you’re not using the fireplace constantly, then the cold wind from your fireplace can actually make its way into your home. Make sure you give your fireplace a good onceover before the winter season begins and ensure that all its parts are functioning smoothly.
- Throw On The Hats And Gloves To Keep Yourself Toasty
It might seem like a given that you should try and keep yourself warm during the winter. However, wearing layers and keeping your feet warm can actually reduce your energy bill. By wearing slippers and socks, drinking warm beverages like coffee and tea, and eating soup, you’ll feel warmer so your house doesn’t have to be as warm itself, and you’ll resist the urge to raise your thermostat’s temperature. This all works together to make your energy bill cost less!
- Don’t Forget About The Great Outdoors
When we think of winterizing our home, sometimes we forget about the outdoors. However, the outdoors is a major part of your home’s winter functionality. You can actually do a lot with your home’s outdoor areas to improve your home’s energy efficiency and safety in the winter months.
For instance, evergreen trees that are planted around your home can ensure your home’s protection from large blasts of wind. However, you also will want to make sure that any tree branches that are close to your home are trimmed down so that they don’t cause trouble during blizzards. Both of these should be taken care of during warm weather.
Moving onto the deck, covering your patio furniture or moving it into the garage will ensure that will remain functional for years to come. You also may want to make sure that your deck has a fresh coat of sealer if it’s feasible.
One of the best ways to make sure you’re prepared for the winter is to stock up on De-Icer and bulk salt. Ensuring that your driveway and sidewalks are plowed and deiced will keep you and your guests safe this winter. Ice can cause falls, and the only thing worse than a winter with constant blizzards is a winter with constant blizzards AND a broken leg.
Finally, drain out any water fountains and shut off the water sources to your hoses. If your spigot freezes with water in it and the pipes burst, they could cost a fortune to repair. Also, you will want to drain the gas out of any of your mowers or other landscaping tools to ensure that they don’t break in the freeze.
- Pamper Your Furnace So It Runs Its Best
Our housewares need pampering to make sure they are running in tip top shape for the winter. Your furnace is probably the most important machine in your home during the winter months, especially if you live in temperatures that are below freezing a large majority of the time. That’s why it’s important to pamper your furnace most of all when it gets blistering cold.
Pampering your furnace means buying a furnace filter for it. Depending on the dust in your home and how often you use your furnace, you could need to change your furnace filter every few months or every month. However, you definitely should change it every year. Changing the filter allows new air to pass through easily, making your furnace work less and your energy costs go down.
- Make Sure Your Fireplace Isn’t A Fire Hazard To Have A Safe Winter
Remember in step number four when we mentioned giving your fireplace a good onceover? Well, we’re going to talk about that a little more in detail over here because it’s so crucial to a safe and happy winter.
Cleaning out your fireplace isn’t just a scam for chimney sweeps to make money. It will not only make your chimney more efficient for the winter, but it will ensure there is no danger in you using your chimney during the cold months. The chimney sweep will ensure that there are no animal nests, cracks, or other dangerous problems with your chimney. It’s better to get a chimney sweep to look at your fireplace during summer or early fall, since they will be less booked and rates are likely to be lower.
If you like using your fireplace in particular during the winter, you can even invest in an insert that will direct heat into your house instead of it just going up the chimney.
- It Starts At The Top: Repair Your Roof’s Shingles
During the fall, repairing your roof’s shingles is a great way to ensure that your roof won’t leak. Especially in winter, leaks can become frozen and end up cracking wood. When you have spare time in the warm weather, grabbing a ladder and checking out your roof’s shingle situation is a good move to make.
If you have an idea of how many shingles you need, head to your hardware store and pick up the correct amount in the right color. You also will need shingle adhesive, a crowbar, nails, and a hammer to get your shingles back in place.
Work in cooler weather if possible, but if you have to work in hot weather, wet down your shingles. Then, use the crowbar to lift up the shingles that are damaged. After setting those to the side, lay down shingle adhesive and then put down your new shingle. Nail it down at the top, and you’re all set to have a roof that will last through the winter and for years to come.
- Turn It Around: Your Ceiling Fans Will Heat Your Room
One of the easiest ways you can maximize your home’s heating power is by reversing the direction of your home’s ceiling fan. If your fan is going clockwise, it’s set for the summer months. This means that the air will be pushed down to keep you cooler. However, during the winter months, you want the warm air from your furnace to be drawn up and spread around the room, which happens when your fan is moving in a clockwise motion.
To change the direction of your fan from counter-clockwise to clockwise, first ensure that it is off. Then, look for the switch on the side of the fan that will change the direction. If you need a visual aid, here’s an informative video.
- Wrap It Up: Wrap Your Water Heater for Maximum Heat
Wrapping your water heater definitely conserves energy. In fact, you could probably receive a rebate from your energy company for blanketing your water heater. And, it takes relatively little effort.
First, start by ordering a water heater blanket either online or from a home improvement store near you. Next, you need a box cutter or razor knife and an idea of the diameter of your water heater. Because most blankets are fiberglass, you may also want to consider wearing gloves. You should also make sure your water heater is clean in order that the tape and blanket will adhere. Wrap your blanket around your water heater and mark where it overlaps, and then trim off that part with the box cutter. Next, wrap it back around your heater with the trim side up, and tape the trim to the heater and tape the two edges together. Finally, cut out the area around your thermostat and add any last bits of tape to make sure your blanket doesn’t fall off.
- Get Your Mind In The Gutter: Clean Your Gutters To Prevent Damage
Cleaning the gutters is a task that most homeowners do begrudgingly. However, it is important to clean the gutters at least once a year. If there is gunk (leaves, dirt, branches, nests) built up in your gutters, this can cause damage during cold weather. Not only could it potentially weigh your gutters down enough to break them, but it could also cause ice dams on the roof which will eventually cause leaks. In the end, not cleaning your gutters could lead to extensive damage, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
You’re going to have to get up on a ladder if you are cleaning gutters. If you have a house with two or three stories, you may want to call in a professional, unless you’re versed in using particularly tall ladders. However, if you want to do it all yourself, make sure you wear a dust mask and gloves when going up there. You’ll want to bring a trash bag and trowel with you to clean the gutters, and then use a hose with a high-pressured nozzle to rinse it down.
- Cushion Your Ducts To Keep Heat From Escaping
Adding some cushion to your heating ducts is one of the best ways to ensure that the heat that starts off in your furnace remains warm when it comes out of your vents. The best part of this fix is that you can use it during the summer to conserve energy with your air conditioning unit.
Unlike with piping, you should use duct work insulation to wrap your heating ducts. This can be picked up at any hardware store. Just make sure you have measured your ducts and know how much you need. Next, lay out the insulation and make sure it fits to each measured section of duct. Once you have it measured to scale, tape down one side and then wrap around the insulation. You then can staple the insulation together. Tape over the seam with heavy-duty tape, and your project is completed.
- Strip Down: Add Some Weather Stripping To Your Home’s Exterior
If you live in an area that is particularly prone to gusts of wind, such as on a large hill, then installing weather stripping could be in your best interest. It will not only keep your energy costs down because your house won’t be drafty, but it will also keep your home’s exterior safe and undamaged.
There are many different kinds of weather stripping you can purchase. Make sure you know where your home is drafty and then make the best purchase for that area of the house. Many of the installation techniques depend on which stripping you are choosing for what area of the house, and just how temporary you want that stripping to be. For more information of specific kinds of weather stripping and what would work best for your home, check out this article on it.
- Lighten Up: More Light Adds Much Needed Brightness
This tip isn’t necessarily aimed at ensuring your home is protected from the outdoor elements, but rather at maintaining the happiness of those living inside your home. The winter blues are real. Not having sunlight, cold air, and bleak skies can lead to an overall dreary mood. Simple lighting can bring your home from bleak to beautiful. Adding in candles, opening up curtains, and keeping lights on around the house will keep your home cheerful and happy as the winter season persists.
- Wrap Up Those Pipes To Keep Them From Bursting
Burst pipes are one of the worst things that can happen to you as a homeowner. Not only do you have to replace your pipes, but you also have to replace floors, drywall, and anything else that’s ruined from water damage. Ensuring that your pipes stay warm during the winter is an absolute must.
Begin by fixing any leaks that your pipes may have using your own tools or by calling a plumber. Next, determine what kinds of pipes you’re covering. Some pipes take better to some insulation versus others. However, generally heat tape works for most pipes.
Next, you should count the at-risk pipes. This includes any exposed pipes in the basement, on the exterior of your home, or near the exterior of your home. Then, go to your local hardware store and buy thermal heating tape for your pipes and wrap them. Every few years you should ensure that your heat tape hasn’t broken down or become worn in any spots, and replace it if necessary.
- Your Garage Isn’t Just For Cars: Heating Your Garage
Your garage might seem like a place to store cars and lawnmowers; however, if it’s attached to your home, it’s much more than that. If your garage is attached to your home, investing in a solar space heater may be in your best interest. If you heat your home but have a freezing cold garage, then one whole wall of your home is releasing heat and probably becoming cold itself. Solar space heaters for your garage will not keep your garage as warm as the interior of your home, but your home won’t be losing nearly as much heat as if it was the same temperature as the outdoors.