8 Ways to Winterize Your Home (and Save Money)
As a general contractor, I get asked lots of home improvement questions, but, one of the most common is about preparing the home for the winter season. In this blog, I have compiled a list of easy-to-complete tasks to prepare the home for winter.
1. Check the Furnace (Cost: $ 10, 45 minutes)
I'll start with the furnace since this appliance will be used the most often and it is the most costly to replace.
Relocate any items; i.e., boxes, furniture, etc., that are around the furnace, specifically if the item obstructs the air flow of the furnace
Clean air ducts with a vacuum
Replace the furnace filter
If you prefer, call a local HVAC company to complete a tune-up for your furnace - it's usually under $100
2. Reverse Ceiling Fans (Cost: Free, Time: 15 minutes)
There is a switch on ceiling fans that tells the fan which direction to spin - clockwise or counterclockwise. During the summer, a fan spins in counterclockwise motion to push air downward to cool the room. In winter, the fan spins clockwise to push air upwards (to the ceiling) to force the heat (that naturally rises) back down into the room.
Turn off the fan and toggle the directional switch. Turn on the fan and set it to slow and ensure the fan is rotating clockwise
3. Install Plastic Window Coverings (Cost: $20, Time: 30 minutes)
For areas where temps drop below freezing regularly, installing a plastic barrier on windows provides an additional layer of protection from unwanted drafts and freezing temps. Purchase a window insulation kit from the local home improvement store (various sizes are available) and install the plastic per the package's instructions (typically a tape strip and a blow dryer)
4. Add Caulking to Windows (Cost: $15, Time: 60 minutes)
Windows (and doors) are, essentially, just openings to the home (think about how the home would look without windows and doors installed - to illustrate the point); so, the most likely place for outside air to seep into the home is through these openings. Therefore, make sure all windows are properly sealed on the exterior. If not, follow the below steps to installing caulking.
Purchase exterior, latex, window caulking (try DAP Alex Plus) and a caulk gun
Check the exterior for openings along the perimeter of the window
Scrape the perimeter, if needed
Apply a bead of caulking around the exterior perimeter of the window
Use a paper towel or rag to smooth out the caulking
5. Set the Thermostat (Cost: Free, Time: 5 minutes)
Remember that time during the summer when you set the thermostat to 68-degrees and the house felt nice and cool? Well, if you keep it there, then you will save quite a bit on the home's winter heating bill. So, adjust the thermostat to 68-degrees and save this winter.
6. Install Door Draft Blocker (Cost: $20, Time: 45 minutes)
The area between the bottom of a door and the flooring is enough space for a cold draft to come into the home. But, the good news is that most homeowners experience this problem, so there are many companies that offer a door draft protector, which can be found on Amazon.com.
7. Add Attic Insulation (Cost: $150, Time: 2-3 hours)
Typically, attic insulation is divided into two parts: a) base of R-19 rolled insulation (that is rolled out between ceiling joists), and b) 12"-18" depth of blown-in insulation. Blown-in insulation will settle over time, creating a less effective barrier; so, use a tape measure and check the depth of the insulation. If it is below 12", then add more to get to an 18" depth.
Purchase fiberglass, blown-in insulation (Big Box stores offer the machine free of charge for 24 hours with the purchase of the insulation) (each bag will cover 10' x 10' x 6")
Set up the insulation blower
Ask a friend or family member to "feed" the blower while you blow the insulation throughout the attic
8. Inspect the Roof (Cost: Free, Time: 15 minutes)
Now, I need to preface this tip by stating that climbing a ladder and, especially, getting on top of a roof can be dangerous, so be careful. If you do not know what you are looking for, then call a local roofing company for a free review. But, if you are a true DIY-er, then climb that ladder and hop on up.
Walk the roof and look for any damaged or missing shingles
Check flashing around chimney or vents
Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear
If repairs need to be made, call a local roofing company to make the repairs
In all, ensuring your home is effectively prepared for winter by sealing gaps in windows, adding attic insulation, or adjusting a thermostat provides a peace of mind and a piece of your wallet. Follow the 8 tips to prepare your home this winter in just one weekend.