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Knowing how to winterize your home before winter hits is so important to keeping your family warm and your heating bills down! These tips for winterizing your house are so simple anyone could do them!
It may be blazing hot where you are right now – Texas anyone? – but winter is coming much quicker than you might think. The past few winters have showed us that Mother Nature can bear down on us during the winter months just as easily as she can during the summer ones.
How to Winterize Your Home Before Winter
The thing about winter is that winter is cold.
Sometimes I amaze myself with the insights that come out of my head. Really, I do.
Anyhow, winter is cold and what does cold weather do to your bills? It raises them. Natural gas, electric and even water bills can all skyrocket during the colder months of the year for one reason or another. Winterizing your home can help with that.
When Should I Start Winterizing My House?
Well, you don’t want to wait until there is already zero degree temps and snow on the ground .
Ideally, you should start winterizing your home as soon as possible. While the things you are doing are geared toward keeping your home warmer and help you lower your power bill (Six Dollar Family) in the winter and reducing energy loss, they will also help to keep your home cooler and your bills lower in the summer time.
In other words, there really is no wrong time to winterize your home.
Why Should I Winterize My Home?
I have already touched on this a little bit earlier in this post, but I wanted to take the time to break it down even further for you.
There are quite a few reasons to winterize your home, but I really only want to touch on two; savings and your home.
Part of winterizing is reducing air leaks so that your furnace – or a/c in the summer – works smarter not harder. The simple fact is this; air leaks are money leaks and they are causing your utility bills to be far higher than they need be.
Bills that are higher than they need to be means less money in your savings account ya’ll.
Again, amazing myself over here with these insights. 😉
The second reason to winterize your home is your home itself. If you have air leaks, unprotected water pipes, a furnace that must work harder to heat your home and so on; you will have more wear and tear on your home itself quicker than you would if you had taken the time to prepare for winter weather. That wear and tear will cost you big bucks over time.
Build a Buffer on Your Heating and Power Bills
While this isn’t specific to winterizing your house, it is something you should consider doing to prepare for winter weather.
If you live in a cold climate, you already know that your bills – specifically heating and power – are going to be higher when the weather is colder. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck (Six Dollar Family), this rise in costs could do some pretty significant damage.
To help ease the burden of those higher costs, build a buffer for yourself during the warmer months. To do this, simply pay a few extra dollars each month on your bill. $25.00 extra is a great place to start but any amount will work.
Overtime, you’ll build an account credit that will help you pay the bill when it is higher.
Seal Door Jams with Weather Stripping
Leaky doors are common in most homes – even new ones. Our home is less than three years old and yes, we have a leaky front door.
When people are going in and out of of door on a regular basis – especially kids – it wears the sealing strips down causing – you guessed it; a leaky door that allows cold air into your home and warm air out (or vice versa).
Once you do, you’ll likely see an immediate change in the area around the door.
Seal Air Leaks at the Bottom of Doors
While weather stripping is great for sealing air leaks at the door jam, it is not so great for the bottom of the door that may have gaps. These door gaps can actually be some of the worst gaps in your home so be sure not to skip this home winterization tip.
To fix it, use a draft stopper like THIS one (Amazon). These also have the added bonus that they will help reduce outside sound from coming indoors.
Seal Window Leaks with Plastic Sheeting
Windows are almost always a culprit when you’re looking for places to winterize in your home. Houses settle and as that happens, frames can become even microscopically off or shifted. When this happens, it can create leaks – especially if you live in an older home.
To help prevent these leaks from causing your home to be cold, fill any serious cracks or gaps with THIS product called Great Stuff (Amazon). It is a spray foam that hardens once it’s outside of the can and works GREAT for gappy windows.
Then, use plastic sheeting such as THIS 6 mil thick Visqueen (Amazon) to keep that cold air from coming inside.
Insulate Windows Before You Seal Them Off
Before you seal the windows with plastic sheeting, take the time to tape in two to three layers of bubble werap.
Yes, bubble wrap. It’s not just for shipping.
If you have ever sealed a window with plastic, you’ll know that the plastic will bow when the wind blows. This is because you have an air leak. This wind causes the plastic to become very cold itself which in turn radiates cold into your home.
However, you can stop this from happening by layering bubble wrap against the window and then add the plastic sheeting. Doing so will insulate the window and keep any cold from radiating into your home.
I prefer to use THIS bubble wrap roll (Amazon) since it’s long enough to do the windows in my home. One buy for the whole house versus a bunch of little ones that end up being more expensive.
Seal the Area Around Dryer Vents
While your dryer can be the cause of higher cooling bills in the summer, it can also be the cause of higher heating bills in the winter.
How so? By creating an air leak where the dryer vent goes outside of your home. This is one that gets forgotten about more often or not because it’s hidden!
Out of sight out of mind, right?
Luckily, the fix is quite easy. Unplug your dryer and pull it away from the wall. Be careful not to rip the vent away. Once the dryer is safely moved, use an aluminum foil backed HVAC tape like THIS (Amazon) to shore up and seal the area around the outside vent if it needs it.
Close off Unused Doors
Do you have an unused door that is letting warm out out and cold air in? Seal it off with plastic sheeting.
Just be sure that the plastic sheeting can be quickly and easily removed if the door is an egress out of your home.
Close off Unused Rooms
Just like unused doors, unused rooms should be shut off as well. Why should you pay to heat a room that is not being used?
Close off Unnecessary Heating Vents
When you close off those unused rooms, be sure to close off the vents as well. Don’t just stop there though. If you have other vents that are unnecessary, close them as well.
Doing so will redirect warmer air to where you need it most; the actual living areas of your home.
Seal Attic and Basement Doors
Do you use your attic often? Probably not. I know I Haven’t been up in mine for months. If you’re not accessing the attic all that often, why does the door need to be basically open?
Instead, cover the door with plastic sheeting to help keep cold – or warm- air from seeping into your home from the attic.
This goes for basement doors that are inside. Unless you’re down in the basement daily or weekly, there is really no reason you can not shut it off to help keep air from seeping upstairs.
Insulate Electric Outlets and Light Switches
While you might think your home is insulated well, there may be spots that you’re overlooking that are under insulated. Your power outlets and light switches may be one of these spots.
While the walls themselves may be insulated well, the areas around outlets and power outlets may not be.
While I don’t recommend that you rip the wall apart to check, I do recommend that you make sure those outlets and switches are properly sealed.
If the outlets are recessed – meaning they are cut into the wall – chances are they are sealed well. However, if they’re not recessed, they may not be sitting entirely flush and could allow air leaks into your home.
To do this, turn power off to the outlet – always best to be safe – and use caulking like THIS (Amazon) to lay a thin line of caulk around the outlet or switch. Once the caulk is laid, use a caulk finisher like THIS (Amazon) to thin the line.
Wipe up any excess and allow it to fully dry before you turn the power back on.
Caulk and Insulate Bath Fixtures
It may not seem as if this could make a room cold, but it can.
And frankly, no one wants to sit on a cold toilet seat at 4 am.
The areas in your bathroom – and under your kitchen sink – that you’ll want to check are where the tub or shower meets the wall and where any pipes are coming into the house at. These areas can be hidden places that cold air can drop the temps in your home at.
If you find any areas that need to be re-caulked, use the same technique that I described above for outlets and switches.
Take Care of Your Water Pipes
Sit up and pay attention now because this is likely one of the most important home winterization tips I could give you.
I know. Why is it so far down this list? Cause that’s how I roll.
Winter can be brutal on your pipes. Not only can it freeze the water that is in them which stops fresh water from flowing into your home, but since water expands when frozen, it can also cause those same pipes to break or bust open.
Busted water lines means big bucks.
To prevent them from freezing at all, make sure they are in perfect working order and are fully insulted.
First, check for any leaks that may have popped up and fix any you find. Then, use a heat tape for water pipes like THIS (Amazon) when the temperature gets cold. This is especially important if your lines are outdoors such as in a mobile home or camper.
Insulate Outdoor Cable Connections
Do you have a cable line coming into your home? If so, pop outside to make sure that there are no gaps where the line comes into the wall at. If there are, add some caulking around it to fill the gap.
Check the Stove Exhaust Fan
I adore my stove’s exhaust fan. It keeps the smoke detectors from singing me the song of their people.
But if your stove’s exhaust fan is not sealed properly, it can be a source of cold air leaks that you’ll want to take care of when you winterize your home.
Find Unusual Air Leaks
I will never forget the day I figured out my kitchen cabinets were the reason my kitchen was always so cold.
I was standing at the sink barefoot and could feel cold coming in from beneath the house. At the time, we lived in a house with a pier and beam foundation which meant no basement and our home was held several feet off the ground by wooden beams.
This created an air tunnel essentially and since it was an older home, we were getting cold air coming in through the bottom row of kitchen cabinets. I realized then that I needed to figure out a quick fix to stop this from happening because we had a large kitchen with a lot of cabinets. It was dropping the temperature in my home by at least five degrees!
My fix was to line the bottom of the cabinets with indoor/outdoor carpet like THIS (Amazon) to keep the cold from beneath the house from radiating through the wood of the cabinet.
If you think outside of the box, you’re likely to find unlikely air leaks like I did.
Fix Holes in the Walls
Holes in the wall can lead to cold radiating through your home; especially if you do not have proper installation within the walls.
If you have holes in the wall, patch them as part of your home winterization project so you aren’t risking cold air.
Insulate or Shut Off Breezy Closets
Occasionally, a home will have a closet that did not get insulated properly. This is especially true if you have an addition built onto your home.
If you have closets that are like this, seal them off with plastic until colder weather is passed. You can live without that closet for a few months.
Have the Furnace Serviced If Needed
Your furnace is a machine and machines need serviced every so often. As you winterize your home, make certain that you check that yours is running the way it shoukld and does not need servicec.
If it does need service, try to have it repaired and in working order by the first of October each year at least. This will give you a buffer in case the weather turns cold early.
Insulate Hardwood or Tile Floors
Most of my home has ceramic tile flooring and let me tell you; that stuff is cold in the winter! If you have hardwood or tile too, you know what I’m talking about.
The thing about cold floors though is that they will radiate cold into the rest of the room.
Fixing this is a pretty quick and easy issue.
Use throw rugs or area rugs like THESE (Amazon) to keep a buffer for that cold air. If we are getting a super cold winter like we’ve had lately, even blankets will work in a pinch.
Have a Secondary Heating Source
Even though you may have serviced your furnace, it is always a good idea to have a back up heating source included in your home witnerization. Power outages and more can all cause your furnace to not be any use.
I personally keep THIS Mr. Heater 125,000 BTU forced propane heater (Amazon) with a few 40 lb. propane tanks on hand for moments just like that.
Have a Generator
Winter storms are notorious for knocking out power which can cost you money in food waste and breakages. But, you can at least prevent some of that loss and breakage by having a generator on hand to plug things such as your refrigerator and water heat tapes into.
You may think you will never use it but once the power goes out, you will be glad you have it.