4 Important Ways to Winterize Your Home
New in your home? This will be your first holiday season as a homeowner—yay! But also the first time you’re on the hook for all the utilities and repairs associated with winter.
Not all of us live where this season brings cold, wind, rain and snow, but even in hot climates, a well maintained, air-tight home can save you money in the long term. The Department of Energy estimates that making your home more efficient can save you up to 25% on utilities. Plus, you might avoid costly repairs: Angie Hicks, cofounder of the consumer website Angie’s List says that “a lot of big emergency calls are really the result of skipping out on basic maintenance.” With those two motivators in mind, we bring you easy ways you can be proactive about winterizing your home.
Cracks and Drafts: Caulk, Seal and Close
- Small cracks between your exterior baseboards or interior door and window trim and the wall beneath them are energy suckers. If you run a wet finger over these edges and feel a draft, you could consider caulking the space. Over the long haul, you make significant progress. As Elizabeth Gehrman of the Boston Globe writes, “An eighth of an inch might not seem like a very big gap, but multiply it by, say, 1,000 linear feet of baseboard, and it adds up to more than 10 feet of space in your house that air can travel through.”
- Make sure door sweeps under all doors, including attic and basement doors, are as close to flush with the floor as possible. Consider backing that closure up with a door snake to really seal in the air you want and keep the air you don’t want out. This example comes from Rusty Bobbin.com.
- Windows too can be more airtight, either by using clear weather-stripping tape on the edges (it won’t damage your windows or walls when you remove it) or by replacing them all together with newer versions (the more expensive, but ultimately a better investment, option).
Heating Systems: Clean, Protect, and Manage
- Fireplace flues should be closed in winter when not in use.
- Get your heater checked out for proper functionality, and your air ducts cleaned for better heath as well as efficiency.
- Consider an Energy Star thermostat that you can program to lower the temperature when you are not at home.
- Adding insulation is perhaps the best way to maximize the efficiency of your home. You may be able to add insulation foam yourself to some apertures, or if your skills are more advanced, lay or blow it in yourself-- or employ a professional service. Either way, the procedure pays for itself. (Photo via Johns Manville.)
Water Systems: Keep Them Warm
- Get Styrofoam covers for hose attachments so they don’t freeze and crack.
- Consider wrapping exposed exterior pipes and any interior pipes that are close up to a wall that gets very cold in the winter. You can also leave kitchen/bath sink cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate near the pipes.
The Roof Overhead: Clear It and Clean It
Above all, literally and figuratively, check your roof. This means:
- Clearing gutters often during stormy months.
- Regularly sweeping ice and snow off the roof to avoid damage to shingles.
These of course are only a few tips for surviving the winter season in your new home. If we forgot something, let us know in the comments. In the meantime, we wish you a warm and wonderful season.
Photo of winter home via Team Home Missions
Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert