Winterizing your househelps tackle the unforgiving cold head-on! While you get your cozy blankets and warm sweaters out, a few preventive measures to protect your home from the harsh winter can do wonders.
With an easy winterize your home project, you’ll be able to minimize your energy bills and keep your home warm and cozy. And who doesn’t love saving some extra cash for holiday shopping, right?
So, let’s get to work!
How to Winterize Your Home for Maximum Comfort and Savings
It’s always best to start winterizing your home a bit early. Rather than waiting for temperatures to plummet, get started on your weatherization project in the fall. It is the perfect time to carry out these activities. Of course, you would want your home to be ready before the cold winds hit, as nobody likes to work on home improvements in chilly weather with numb fingers!
Here are 20 cost-effective winterization tips & tricks which only require minimal effort! This handy winterizing a home checklist has everything you need:
- Get your Heating System Checked
- Use Smart Home Devices
- Winterize Your Pipes
- Add Reflectors to Your Radiators
- Slash the Bills
- Flush the Water Heater
- Upgrade Your Attic Insulation
- Get Rid of Unvented Space Heaters
- Use Chimney Balloon
- Get Draft Guards
- Weatherproof Your House Spaces
- Use Weatherstripping
- Check the Gutters
- House the Hose
- Run Fans Counterclockwise
- Replace Screen Windows and Doors
- Get Your Chimney Professionally inspected
- Inspect Roof Shingles
- Test Your Detectors
- Trim Your Trees & Plant a Windbreak
1. Get Your Heating System Checked
One of the main tips for winterizing your home is to get your heating system checked. Your heating unit will be the one appliance you will regularly use. Thus, it makes perfect sense to give it a detailed look before putting it to use.
Start by checking the air filters of your heating system when winterizing your house. If they have accumulated dirt or dust, take them out, wash them, and leave them out to dry. Once completely dry and clean, put them back in. A clean filter will improve air quality and reduce energy bills by as much as 15%.
If you want a more detailed check of your HVAC system, you need help from a licensed HVAC technician. Regular preventative maintenance will keep your system stay efficient all year round.
2. Smart Home Devices Save You Effort
Smart home devices are all the rage these days and are essential if you want to winterize your home. For example, you can use a smart water leak detector near your boiler or water heater to alert you in case of a leakage. You can also use a smart mattress heating pad to keep you warm and cozy all night.
For central heating systems, smart thermostats can be utilized to maintain an ideal home climate. If you have a ductless heat pump, smart AC controllers should be your go-to device to automate your ductless heating and cooling units. Smart AC controllers enable you to save on energy bills. With smart climate control devices, you can set up schedules for the whole week and use temperature and humidity triggers to maintain the perfect environment.
Here’s a guide on how to DIY a smart air conditioner!
3. Winterize Your Pipes
Water expands when it freezes, and this can be hazardous for your pipes! If the temperature drops below 32F, your pipes can freeze and burst. Before the extreme cold sets in, always check for blockages and winterize your pipes. Pipes in areas such as the garage are very vulnerable to freezing during winter. A blocked pipe is more prone to cracking under extreme cold due to pressure build-up.
An essential step when winterizing your home is to insulate your pipes and carefully look for any cracks. The pipes outside your home, such as garden hoses or sprinklers, can be disconnected and turned off. Ductless heat pumps offer a great solution with the innovative Freeze Protection mode, which allows your heat pump to blow in hot air while consuming minimum power to prevent freezing temperature in your home.
4. Add Reflectors to Your Radiators
Radiators are nearly always installed next to walls, making one side ineffective in transmitting heat to the room. Only the wall heats up on that side, reducing the efficacy of the radiator. To prevent this issue, install a radiator reflector on the wall behind the radiator.
As the name suggests, a radiator reflector will reflect the heat away from the wall and back towards the room, making it heat up much better than before. When coupled with reflectors, radiators can perform their best without any energy wastage.
5. An Energy Audit Saves You Money
Among all the tips on winterizing your home, knowing how to cut down your energy bills is the most crucial. So as the winter season approaches, call your local power company to conduct an energy audit of your home. The professional will suggest changes to make your home more energy-efficient to lower energy bills and increase comfort.
Following energy-saving tips throughout the year will help you slash your energy bills by a significant amount.
6. Flush Out the Water Heater
Before winter sets in, be sure to flush your water heater or boiler system. Because water heaters remain inoperational during the summer sediment and other particles can settle in the outlets, reducing their efficiency.
Flush the drain valve at least once before the winter season starts to get rid of sediment. It would be best if you drained the flush valve at least once a month to remain on the safe side during winters.
7. Don’t Forget Your Attic
You must insulate your attic if you want to keep your home warm. Unfortunately, an attic is often neglected when discussing home insulation, but in most cases, it is the single most helpful addition you can make to winterize your home.
It is necessary to insulate your attic in winter because hot air rises and all the heat from your heating unit will move the uninsulated attic. Moreover, cold air sinks and to prevent the conduction of cold to the floors below, insulation is required. An uninsulated attic will also pose damage to your roof and can cause ice dams.
8. Get Rid of Unvented Space Heaters
Gas space heaters are a great way to introduce a lot of heat into an indoor space, but they can be equally dangerous. The way they work, directly heating the room through combustion, fills the place with hazardous carbon monoxide gas. Without proper air circulation, CO2 can build up in the room and be potentially fatal.
It’s best to opt for a different heating system instead of unvented space heaters. If there is absolutely no other option, opt for electric space heaters, which are much safer.
9. Use Chimney Balloons
Even if the rest of your home is well-sealed, having a chimney means a big hole in the room, providing a way for the cold wind to enter your heated living space. So as much as you’d want to keep the chimney open for Santa, the most obvious solution to keep the chilled air out is to close off this space.
A chimney balloon inflates like any other balloon and acts as a barrier to prevent heat loss. In addition, it creates an airtight seal within the chimney. If your chimney does not have a damper, or if it’s broken or damaged, a chimney balloon is a must-buy.
Small leaks and holes in the interior space can add up and result in drafts, introducing cold air into the room. According to the US Department of Energy, the total energy wastage from these air leaks can be around $400 annually. Potential sources of drafts are door hinges, under-door spaces, broken window seals, power outlets, and other wall fittings.
Commercially available draft guards are flexible pieces of foam that can slide in under your doors and windows, sealing them up so that no air can come in from the outside.
Here’s more on finding and fixing air leaks in your home.
11. Weatherproof Your House
Another item to add to the winterize your home checklist is weatherproofing. Weatherproofing is a combination of multiple easy and low-cost steps that keep your home warm and cozy. These include giving your walls and deck a fresh coat of seal paint to prevent the moisture in ice and snow from soaking into the concrete surface and weakening it when it freezes.
You should also seal and insulate your windows to prevent cold drafts and caulk doors to keep cold out. Replace improperly fitted wall outlets and vents. Air ducts are one of the most significant sources of heat loss, with 20-30% of the air that moves through ducts being lost due to leaks, so ductwork insulation is also necessary.
All these steps add up and contribute significantly to keeping your home warm and comfortable.
12. Use Weatherstripping
Winterizing your home is not finished until you use Weatherstripping for the little nooks and crannies, which cannot be insulated otherwise. These places can be the window sash, attic hatches, door jambs, and immovable windows, which have degraded over time.
If you have wooden walls, random cracks and crevices can develop over the years. Apply weatherstrip tape between the window frame and lower sash to insulate it perfectly. Moreover, weatherstrip the door jambs and ensure that it fits tightly.
13. Check the Gutters
One important tip for winterizing your home is to clean your gutters thoroughly. Blocked drains can result in the accumulation of water. This puddle can serve as a breeding ground for mold and algae, seeping into the interior walls.
Moreover, leaves and twigs can block off the gutters during fall. When winter arrives, along with snow and rain, the blocked gutters cannot carry the water away. The blocked water can freeze over and make potentially deadly ice dams.
14. House the Hose
In preparation for winter, detach your garden hose at the end of the summer season.
Ice takes up nearly 10% more space than the same amount of liquid water. When the water in the hose freezes during the winter season, the hose cannot stretch to accommodate it. This results in:
- Burst pipes
- Broken valves
- Broken Joints
Even if you have a frost-free fixture, you should still remove the hose as winter begins. If you don’t, there is a chance your pipes will freeze and burst.
15. Run Fans Counterclockwise
Run your fans counterclockwise during winters as this will redirect warm air trapped on the ceiling downwards.
Most fans have a switch that allows you to change the direction depending on the weather.
16. Replace Screen Windows & Doors
When doing your winterize your home project, remove all screen windows and doors and replace them with storm windows and doors. Storm windows and doors add a layer of insulation and keep out winter elements that screen windows and doors would allow in.
17. Get Your Chimney Professionally Inspected
An often-overlooked aspect of home weatherization is getting your chimney inspected by a professional. Poor chimney maintenance is strongly correlated with an increased fire risk. A professional will look for any obstructions or exposed walls that can cause a fire.
18. Inspect Roof Shingles
Wear well-fastened shoes with non-slip soles to check your roof for any missing or damaged shingles. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, hire a professional. Replace any damaged shingles, or you might find melted snow or rainwater seeping into your home.
19. Test Your Detectors When Winterizing a House
Check the operation of your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they are in perfect condition and add new batteries. You can also consider upgrading to detectors that come with remote monitoring.
20. Trim Your Trees & Plant a Windbreak
When creating your winterize your home checklist, go outside and take a good look at the perimeters of your home. Check if any tree has big branches that have grown toward your home. These branches can be dangerous in heavy winds as they may fall on your roof. Moreover, heavy snow can also weigh them down, posing damage to your home, garage, or shed. Take preventative action by trimming the branches.
After that, consider planting a windbreak. Planting conifer trees around your house can prevent heavy winds from blowing against your home.
Now that the winterize your home checklist is complete be sure to follow all the above steps well before the cold wave sets in so that you are prepared to tackle the chilly weather. Seal your windows, clean your gutters, get your heating system checked, and enjoy a hassle-free winter!
You may also want to prepare your home for winter emergencies if you need to face any blizzards, ice storms, or other harsh winter conditions. Weather disasters can result in power outages or keep you homebound for weeks! Therefore, stocking up on food & supplies, having a secondary power source, and keeping an emergency kit handy are necessary.
Have a great winter!