How To Winterize Your Home
Winterize your home
For homeowners living in climates where they experience four seasons, planning ahead is critical. Learning how to winterize your home is something you cannot let slip by when the cold months come. To stay comfortable and keep your home functioning year-round, a little prep work is required before each change in the weather — be it between snow and sunlight or vice versa.
Perhaps the most involved seasonal change is that between autumn and the winter months. The arrival of frigid temperatures and routine snowfall presents unique challenges to homeowners — increased energy usage, outdoor preparation, and more.
While it’s never too late to begin winterizing your home, being proactive is key. Below are a few useful tips for winterizing your home and how to help you get started on the process.
Keep cold air out
The most common reason for winterizing your home is to keep it warm during the winter months. Naturally, the easiest way to do this is to prevent it from getting cold in the first place: The less cold air that enters your home, the less work (and energy) required to offset it. This may sound intuitive, but it’s easier said than done.
There are a number of different ways cold air can enter into a home — through the windows, the roof, doorways or floors. Some of these signal malfunctioning (such as, say, drafty windows), but some are natural and unavoidable in any home. The best way to prevent this is to install additional layers of insulation.
How to Winterize Windows Quickly
Sometimes getting new exterior doors is a necessity or your best bet to a warmer home is new windows. But not everyone can afford to replace all windows and doors in the home all at one time.
You can take some basic steps, though, to winterize your windows and keep your home warm.
Sometimes you just need a little caulk to keep out the draft. A few tubes can make a big difference and minimize air leaks.
Before you begin to squeeze out a line of caulk, break out your razor blade. Scrape off all the old caul and peeling paint around the exterior of the window. Make sure you have a clean, dry surface for your new caulk.
Use a bucket of soapy water to clean the surface, and then dry it thoroughly. Caulk will stick best to a smooth, dry surface.
Then squeeze out a bead of exterior-grad caulk. Follow the outside perimeter of the windows. Create a single-line seal between the window frame and siding.
If you notice big gaps between the window frame and the siding, you may need something more substantial than just caulk. At this point, you’ll need to consider some spray foam to fill the gaps. Once you’ve filled the hole, keep on caulking.
Check Your Glass
As you’re preparing to caulk your windows, examine the glass on the windows carefully. If you have broken glass, no amount of caulk will keep the cold out. Replace the glass with double pane windows filled with argon gas. This will help prevent heat loss.
All of your walls have insulation to keep the heat out. Insulating the frame of your window just makes sense to keep the heat out as well.
You can use low-expansion spray foam made specifically for windows. You can certainly use batting insulation as well but do so carefully. Do not stuff it into the spaces tightly.
If you have a gap between the window and the framing, spray foam is your best friend. You spray it, and it expands in the space and fills it.
Weatherstripping also works well to winterize your windows and doors.
Weatherstripping comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. V-shaped or tension-seal weather stripping works well for the side channels of double-hung windows.
Pulley seals can block the air that streams through the holes where cords go into the window frames.
Whatever you do, read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the weatherstripping. Because it comes in so many varieties, you must assume that no weatherstripping is the same.
Weatherstripping is an easy, affordable way to close the air gaps between your doors, windows, and other openings — cracks that allow in cold air if they go unaddressed. Weatherstripping is available in a variety of materials (vinyl, felt, foam, and more), and the installation process is easy. Once installed, it helps with drafts and keeps out melted snow, bugs, etc.
Cover Basement Window Wells
To keep your basement warm, invest in window covers or thick blinds. They can cost as little as $20 and can increase your energy efficiency.
Window well covers will trap heat in the basement and prevent drafts from coming into your basement windows. If you have a bunch of snow, they will prevent the snow from accumulating in your window well.
This will increase your chances of a dry basement at then end of the winter season, at the beginning of spring once everything thaws outside.
Window Insulator Kits
Many people believe in window insulator kits. These kits come with sheets of plastic, adhesive strips, and instructions.
First, you line the perimeter of your window on the inside of your house with the adhesive strip. Then you cut the plastic to fit over your window. You seal the edges of the plastic to the adhesive strip.
Then you typically use a hairdryer. You blow warm air on the plastic to shrink it so that it fits snugly over the window. If you apply the insulator kit correctly, you will end up with a warmer room and just as much light as if you did not have the kit.
Help your furnace
Staying warm in the winter requires more than great insulation. No matter how effectively you prevent cold air from entering, you are going to need to head up your home — be it from a fireplace, a central heating system, or a space heater. If you are not careful, this gets expensive quickly. Here are some tips to protect your heating system.
The easier it is for warm air to travel throughout your home, the less warm air will be required to heat it. Simply rearranging your furniture to maximize airflow can help you warm up rooms quicker and, in turn, save money. To start, move large pieces of furniture away from any heating source. Heating sources should have a clear air path for air circulation.
Insulate pipes & water heaters
During cold weather months, pipes can freeze or burst if they go unused for too long. However, they also play an important role in your home’s efficiency when they are being used. As water travels along the plumbing lines, hot water tends to lose heat and cold water tends to gain heat. To prevent these inefficiencies, introduce pipe insulation — such as a pipe sleeve and electrical heat tape.
How To Winterize Your Home – Prepare the outdoors
When it comes to winterizing your home, the process is not complete until you pay attention outside. So, whatever you do, don’t go spending all of your efforts indoors. It’s not enough to simply improve insulation or energy efficiency. Outside, where snow falls and the cold comes from, present just as many opportunities to prepare for the storm.
Throughout the autumn months, leaves and other debris are bound to build up in your gutters. If unattended to, this can cause a water back up that damages roofing, siding and wood trim — plus cause leaks and ice dams. So, as you prepare for your winter, make sure you clean the gutters. Remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water.
Protect air conditioner & HVAC System
While most air conditioning units are built to withstand harsh winter weather, they are not built to keep out leaves, seeds, nuts, and other debris. When this debris gets into your air conditioner, it can invite moisture, which then causes corrosion and can even block drainage. To prevent this, remember to cover your central air unit before autumn arrives.
Prepare for Emergencies
Make sure you have a home emergency kit on hand as well as enough supplies to last for three days for each member of your household. Your emergency kit should include water in bottles or jugs, non-perishable food, flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, a battery-operated radio, blankets, prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
Don’t forget about the needs of your pets during this time. Make sure they have adequate shelter, preferably indoors, away from the wintry elements. Stock enough food and water to get them through the same amount of time you and your family will be required to endure.
While it’s always best to be proactive when starting to winterize your home, it is never too late to take additional steps to keep your home comfortable and secure.
Hopefully, the winterizing your home checklist above is enough to help you get started. For more information about specific parts of the process — say, how to reduce heat loss from your home — contact the Replacement Window Center location near you.