Home Winterization: 4 Easy Steps for Winterizing Your House
October 31, 2013
Winter brings with it the promise of white snow, warm sweaters and cozy nights by the fire… along with cars buried in snow, rising energy bills and frozen pipes. No matter what your outlook on winter, home winterization can prevent many of the season’s headaches.
Winterizing your home doesn’t have to be daunting. With a few simple steps, you can protect you and your house from cold weather and snow storms. Here are 4 ways to winterize a house.
Keep the Cold Out: How To Winterize Against Drafts & Leaks
Reducing drafts in the home can reduce energy use by 5 – 30% over the course of a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are some common sources of leaks and drafts, and how to winterize a house against them:
- Check for leaks. Common draft sources include windows, doors, baseboards, cable/phone lines, dryer vents, and any junctures, especially where two different materials meet . You can use caulk, weather stripping, window insulation or other appropriate materials to seal leaks.
- Swap out screens for storm doors and windows to provide an extra layer of protection against icy winds.
- Block drafts coming from under doors with draft dodger door stoppers. You can make your own using common household items like a tube sock or old shirt sleeves filled with rice, beans or corn kernels or shop for decorative draft dodger door stoppers on Etsy or your favorite home décor store.
Minimize Home Heat Loss & Lower Energy Bills
When winterizing your home, it is also important to maximize the heat retention inside your home. According to Illinois Keep Warm campaign, “20% of heat loss happens in the basement.” Try these tips to keep warmth in the basement and your whole house.
- Check for proper insulation: Attics, basements and crawl spaces adjoining the exterior are the easiest to access and increase insulation. Checking for a wall’s interior is more difficult. Using the wall power outlet, you can verify that interior walls are sufficiently insulated. Ideally, insulation should fill the entire wall cavity. [See Energy.gov instructions to safely check insulation]
- Reversing your ceiling fans (clockwise) is a quick, easy trick to keep warm air circulating rather than rising to the ceiling.
- Seal ducts to ensure that all the heat pumping through the house is reaching vents in the living space, not leaking out where it doesn’t belong like ceilings, floors and walls.
- Insulating pipes will help prevent heat loss as hot water runs through the house. This is especially important if you use a boiler or steam heating system.
- Insulated curtains prevent heat from escaping through windows.
- Set a schedule for your thermostat with lower temps when you’re out of the house or sleeping. This is an easy way to save on energy bills.
>> Get more information on conducting a DIY home energy audit at Energy.gov or the Illinois Keep Warm campaign guide.
Furnace Maintenance & Home Appliance Winterization
After a restful spring/summer vacation, your furnace and heating equipment needs a fitness check to make sure it’s in shape for the winter work ahead. While performing home winterization, you should also put some safety checks in place to ensure proper ventilation and to protect you and your family.
- Have your furnace (any heating and cooling equipment) serviced and request that your utility company or an energy professional check that your appliances are properly ventilated.
- Swap out the air filter for your heater/furnace regularly (typically once a month)
- Check CO & smoke detectors to ensure your safety as appliances will be using gas or electricity to heat your home through the cold winter months.
- Inspect chimney before using the fireplace and only open the flue / damper when you have a fire burning.
- Winterize your home air conditioners by removing window units to prevent air leaks or covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner. It also helps to use plastic insulation (like you use for windows) over the interior side of permanently-installed air conditioner units.
- Own a standby generator? Use the cold weather generator maintenance kit to ensure that your unit is ready to power your home during a winter storm or power outage.
Prepare for Winter Storms
Winterizing your home isn’t complete until you’re ready for severe winter storms. With a few chores and supplies, you can prevent common causes of storm damage, as well as and safety hazards caused by ice and snow storms.
- Trim trees to prevent icy limbs from falling on your house, cars or nearby power lines.
- Cleaning out the gutters to ensure water (melting snow) can freely flow through gutters instead of forming dangerous icicles around your home.
- Keep a bag of rock salt or sand by the door to prevent icy conditions on your sidewalk, stairs and driveway.
- Make an emergency preparedness kit to ensure you and your family have necessary supplies (especially to keep warm) if there is a severe storm or power outage.
- Clear away snow, shrubs, leaves and debris from furnace and water heater vents.
>> Find more info on preventing storm damage to your house.
If you regularly experience power outages, you may want to consider a home generator to help keep your furnace fan, water heater and other essential home appliances running during winter storms.
Hopefully, these home winterization tips made this project a breeze and now you’re ready to enjoy all the winter season’s perks. Have other strategies for winterizing your house? Share them with us on the GE Generators Facebook page!