15 Ways to Winterize your home

Preventative measures can reduce the likelihood of water and mold damage

The warm summer weather has faded, and the cold days and nights of winter are only a few weeks away. In the same way, you pull out your winter clothes and prepare your wardrobe for the changes in the weather, you need to start thinking about ways to winterize your home.

As daunting as this task may seem to non-DIY folks, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. There are tools available and some fairly simple procedures you can utilize. Combine the two, and almost anyone can effectively get their home ready for the harsh conditions of winter.

We’ll show you how to implement a winterization program that covers the inside and outside of your home.

These tips will help:

  • Keep the energy costs down
  • Improve the insulation of your home (keep the heat in and the cold out!)
  • Keep your family safe from home devices that may become dangerous in cold weather
  • Much, much more…

Let’s look at these 15 ways to winterize your home before the cold weather arrives so you can have a warm, cozy, and safe winter.

Why (And When) You Should Winterize Your Home

The winterizing process should begin in early fall when weather conditions are still comfortable. If you’re a snowbird,

These 15 Ways to Winterize Your Home can…

  • Energy efficiency which in turn saves you money
  • Safety measure to protect your home and loved ones
  • Comfort levels are easier to achieve
  • Damage control
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Tech devices

Our 15 Ways To Winterize Your Home

#1: Heating System Check

Do a full heating system check every year before turning on your system. Preventative maintenance can save you money on energy bills, extend the life of your heating system, and improve overall performance.

Here’s what you should check:

  • Clear fire hazards away from your heater
  • Check and likely replace your air filter
  • Test your hot water radiators
  • Fill your oil tank if your home is heated with oil
  • Check the thermostat (well before you need it)
  • Inspect the chimney and carbon monoxide detectors

#2: Replace Your Heater Filter

We talked about six things you can check in your heating system, and one of them was to replace the filter. The filter keeps all the dust pollen, odor, dust mites, mold, and other undesirable elements from being blown back into your house through the return air vents.

We all know that the furnace heats your home but also cleans out microscopic elements and recirculates the air.

Since it’s recommended to replace a filter as much as often as every month, filters are sold as single units or in multi-packs. Replace 1-2 inch filters every 1-3 months. 2-4 inch filters should be replaced every 6-9 months and 5-6 inch filters every 9-12 months.

Price Range: $18 – $90 (multipacks)

Side note: there are budget-friendly filters available online which can help you out if necessary, but clean air in a sealed house might be worth the extra few dollars you have to spend to get a filter that filters out some of the bad things that can accumulate in your home over a winter season.

#3: Check CO2 Detectors

It’s a good idea to check your CO2 detector during your winterization program. If you don’t have one, then you should install one. There’s a very good reason for having one of these safety precautions installed in your home.

When you seal your house up during winter, sometimes you can seal it to the point where CO2 can build up, which is a problem. Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, having a way to detect it can be a lifesaver.

There are many CO2 detectors you can choose from with assorted features and functions, such as battery-powered backup in case of a power outage, loud alarms, and easy installation.

Price Range: $20-$150

#4: Reverse Ceiling Fans

This simple step is a game changer. Hot air from your furnace, fireplace, or heater rises to the ceiling and can hover up there trapping the hot air where you can’t feel it. Oftentimes you have to set your thermostat higher to get this air to drop down and help heat the area you’re in.

By adjusting the direction of your ceiling fan, you can gently bring that warm air down to where you need it. Switch the fan to go in a clockwise motion, set the fan to slow, and the fan will create a downward draft that forces the air down towards you.

Price Range: Free, and just a second or two of your time.

#5: Add Weatherstripping

Weather stripping is a material that seals the edges of windows and doors when they’re closed. Improper weather stripping can let all the heat out of the house in a hurry. You can think of it like the seal around the refrigerator door, but in this case, the idea is to keep the cold out, not in.

This step can significantly lower your energy needs and your monthly heating bills. It’s reported an average savings of 7.5% annually, with some reports of savings as high as 15%. Over a year that will add up quickly, given the price to heat your home these days.

Price Range: $130-$430

The price will depend on how extensively you apply the weather stripping and what type of materials you use.

#6: Install Draft Guards

If you have ever felt a cold draft coming from under a door, you know this next step is a must when winterizing your home. One common method of draft prevention is installing a door sweep.

In a pinch, you can use anything that will cover up the bottom of the door where the draft is coming in. Towels, rugs, and blankets will work. But if you want to ensure that the gap under the door is sealed correctly, this might be the year to put on a door sweep.

#7: Install Window Film

Although not the most glamorous of all the steps to winterize your home, this step is functional and budget friendly. Ideally, it would be great to have double-pane windows that create a barrier to help retain the heat in the wintertime, but the cost can be a huge deterrent to going all out and changing your windows.

The next best thing is to find some window film that is made to attach to the inside of the window frames and create that barrier and add a space similar to double pane windows or triple pane if you are insulating double pane windows.

Window insulator kits are available in inside and outside configurations, allowing you to choose how to install them. Many people swear by these kits, and for the price, they really can’t be beaten.

Installing window film is an extreme weather step for areas that experience deep freezes and prolonged lower temperatures, but can also be used in less severe temperatures.

Price Range: $5-$35+

The price differences are based on types of plastic, thickness, application, and installation type

#8: Invest In a Chimney Balloon

Using a wood-burning fireplace can be a cozy way to heat your home, but sometimes burning is not possible. So on those days, weeks, or months that it’s cold outside and you can’t or just don’t want to burn in your fireplace, you want to block off the chimney to keep from losing heat through the flume.

There are dampers in most fireplaces, but they don’t completely block off the air draft that can go up the chimney. So the way to stop that draft is to use a chimney balloon.

Price Range: $43-$50 (depends on the size of the chimney)

#9: Clean Your Gutters

Throughout the four seasons, your gutters will receive rain, leaves, debris, random things like tennis balls, and even dead animals. Over time, this can cause structural damage to your gutters, leaving them vulnerable to what’s to come during winter.

The first and largest threat is the buildup of ice dams. Gutters are designed to allow water to flow through, but when ice dams form, they weigh down your gutters and anything you didn’t remove in the fall. Eventually, your gutters can sag and even break off.

#10: Flush and Insulate The Hot Water Heater

Your water heater has to work a bit harder to maintain the heat inside the tank during really cold weather. You want to flush your hot water heater to help it operate optimally and ensure that sediment and gunk don’t build up. Having a flushing schedule can ensure that your water heater runs efficiently throughout its life.

Hot water heaters are often located in parts of your home that may not be as well insulated as the livable areas. This means you must ensure that water pipes are wrapped and that insulation is safely and properly installed around them. You should flush your water heater every 1-3 years.

There are water heater covers that you can wrap around your water heater to help it maintain the heat in the tank without continually relying on a flame to keep the water up to temp. These insulated heater blankets fit around the tank and are secured in place by straps. Some of these blankets have a super high R-value and can help save you money over the winter season.

Price Range: $30-$70 depending on size and material

#11: Wrap your Exposed Pipes

Wrapping your pipes could be one of the most important winterizing steps. This step can mean the difference between having water and not having water in January, which will help prevent busted pipes.

Exposed water lines that run through any part of your house that is not exposed to heat run a good chance of freezing. All it takes is a few hours exposed to 20℉/-6℃ to freeze solid. A simple step to save you from a huge headache and water damage can wrap them with insulation.

In DIY situations, hot water pipes can be wrapped in fiberglass, and the cold water lines can be wrapped with one of the available foam products. In extreme cases, you can also use a plug-in heat tape that comes in varying degrees.

Price Range: $1.80-$3.00 per linear foot for fiberglass

#12: Insulation

Insulation is the keyword when winterizing your home. Keeping cold air out and warm air in can be as easy as adding fiberglass insulation. Adding another layer in the attic or some layers or stuffing it in places where cold air can get in.

Insulating with fiberglass is an easy step for spaces that aren’t living spaces, such as basement doors, windows, unused rooms, and around-window AC units that have to winter in place.

Price Range: $0.50-$1.70 per sq ft depending on the brand, thickness, material, and R-Value

#13: Apply Caulking

Caulking can be used around windows and doors or anywhere that is stationary. A simple bead of caulk can stop a draft or a leak, and it’s very DIY-friendly. It might be necessary to remove the trim around the windows, and if the gap can be filled with caulking, add some.

Price Range: Caulking Gun- $5-$10, Tube of caulk $4 and up

#14: Remove the Garden Hose

Removing the garden hose from the bib on the side of your house may seem like a small detail but it is a step that can save some trouble and possibly money over the long haul. Water can sit in your hose and spigot and freeze quickly when temperatures drop. Removing the hose can insulate the spigot and drain and store your hose for next year.

This step saves your hose and insulates a potential freeze point in your water system.

Price: No Cost

#15: Integrate Smart Home Apps

You can find several apps and gadgets that can help winterize your home. From programmable thermostats to WiFi thermostats and climate sensors that can tell you if your pipes will freeze. If techy gadgets are your thing, you won’t be disappointed. One of my favorite smart home integrations is the ability to adjust the thermostat without leaving the bed. The possibilities are endless

Price Range: Thermostats $35- $60, Smart Home Gadget $100 and up

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