4 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter
With winter on the way, it’s a great time to make sure your home is ready for the colder weather – whether it’s weatherizing attics or windows, or making sure your heating system is in optimal condition, there are ways to make sure the chill doesn’t get inside.
Fix up your furnace.
Taking a closer look and fixing problems with your furnace before it gets too cold outside could save you a lot of hassle later on. There are simple fixes that you can manage yourself: Start by checking on your furnace filters and change them out if necessary since they can get clogged with dust buildup over time. Along with checking the filters, you should make sure all of the vent intakes and ducts are clear of dust and debris. Keep draperies, rugs, and clutter away from the vents. Open vents in rooms that you frequently use, and keep them closed in rooms that get less frequent use, such as a guest bedroom, to maximize your heating efficiency.
If you have a battery-operated thermostat, now is a good time to update those batteries for the season. Know where your furnace sources its fresh air intake – sometimes it’s on the side of the house, which can get blocked by snow, leaves, or other debris. A call to a professional may be worth it: they can help work through any venting problems, and they can make sure your furnace is in good working order for the cold weather to come. You don’t want to have to make a repair call on the coldest day of the year.
Get your windows ready.
Cold air finds a way to get around the tiniest gaps in your window frame and provides a way for heat to escape, causing your home to lose energy. Make sure your weatherstripping is in proper repair, and caulk any gaps where drafty air can creep in.
Additionally, now’s the time to replace screens with storm windows. If you’ve got older windows, calling in an expert may help to identify problem areas: You may opt to replace crumbling window frames, which can be the culprit when air is coming in, or even the windows themselves. If your windows are fogging up, or you notice a draft when they’re closed, those are signs that it may be time for a replacement. New, energy-efficient replacement windows are an expense but will help your home to save energy in the long run. The cost of heating your home is often more than 40 percent of your utility bill – don’t make it worse.
Keep your home cozy in the colder seasons by insulating it throughout. This can and should be approached from a number of angles: Start again with the windows – what kind of window coverings do you have? Updating your blinds to cellular shades can create an extra level of insulation. Heavier draperies can also add an insulating factor (but be sure they do not block heat vents). Good window coverings also can function as a heat blocker in the summer months. If you have a fireplace, maintain the seals around the flue damper to be sure you’re not losing valuable heat.
Examine your attic for potential leaks, such as around light fixtures, pipes, and ducts, and seal them against drafts. Insulation in your attic should be 10 inches thick – check it and add more if necessary. Making sure your attic insulation is in great shape is one of the best ways to protect your home against lost heat.
One of the biggest culprits in lost energy during the winter can be a roof that’s in disrepair. While a roof replacement project can be one of the more expensive home upgrades, it can help save a ton of energy in the winter months, and it’s a great investment if you plan to sell your home one day. A replacement might include changing the shingle color to something lighter to help reflect heat in the summer – while you might want more heat in the winter, preventing your attic from overheating in the summer will help extend the life of your roof, roofing, and shingles, increasing their energy efficiency in the winter. The addition of a radiant barrier under the shingles also helps protect the roof and improve energy savings as well.
Taking a look at these key areas of your house can go a long way to preparing your home for winter – creating greater energy efficiency in the cold months this year and for years to come.