Winterizing your home feels like a daunting chore, but it can be easy, inexpensive and will surely help the winter go by as comfortably as possible.
There are many ways to get your home ready for the colder months, and they fall into one of three categories: windows and doors, HVAC, or insulation. Don’t let HVAC and insulation scare you. Here are 13 easy-to-accomplish winterizing projects any homeowner can do. When December rolls around, you’ll be thankful you finished each one.
Winterizing your windows and doors
1. Install new windows and storm doors. When it comes to doors and windows, the best way to keep cold air out of your home is to install energy-saving storm doors and windows. You might be surprised to learn that installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by up to 45%!
A ventilating storm door offers an upper ventilation area while keeping its stylish design on the lower part (or vice-versa). This is useful when you want more privacy, but don’t need much ventilation. It’s a great option, as the screen can be closed in the winter and opened again in the spring. It also secures your home, making it harder for intruders to gain access compared to a full-length screen storm door.
2. Install new energy-efficient windows. Old windows may vintage charm you crave, but they certainly won’t keep the cold out of your home. In fact, old windows are the number one source of heat loss. Bear in mind, though – new windows are not cheap. Fortunately, the long-term energy and heat savings more than make up for the initial investment.
Let’s move on to cheaper projects. New doors and windows not in your budget? Don’t worry! You can winterize your home while keeping your current doors and windows.
3. Caulk and seal your doors and windows. Cold air will work its way through your windows and doors, making your heating system work much harder to do its job. Overcome those cold drafts by caulking your windows and doors. It’s a low-cost, easy-to-do project. ProTip: When caulking, be sure to smooth out your caulk lines with a wet finger. This keeps everything even and professional-looking.
4. Buy or make draft blockers for your doors. A draft blocker may not be quite as effective as a new door, but it certainly does work well. You can get one that mounts to the bottom of the door, use one that lays on the floor up against the door, or – in a pinch – roll up a towel and place it close to your door.
5. Weather-seal your windows with plastic sheeting. If you’re not into dirtying your hands with caulk, you can always purchase window-sealing kits. The plastic in these kits is nearly invisible when installed correctly, and the adhesive strips are easily removed when spring arrives – and they won’t damage your walls.
Winterizing your HVAC system
6. Replace your furnace filters. Nothing is more important during the winter than your heating system. It is essential to change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and will make your furnace work harder. It could even cause a breakdown! If you haven’t already done so, stock up on filters. Buying them by the case will save you money in the long run.
7. Repair or replace your furnace. Even with diligent maintenance, a furnace won’t run forever. You’ll more than likely have to repair your heater or upgrade to a new one at some point. According to Energy.gov, the average price to repair a furnace is about $250. Keep in mind, though – your furnace’s age and overall condition could make that repair cost a lot more!
A good alternative to an expensive repair is to upgrade to a modern, energy-efficient furnace. While the average price of a new furnace is around $3,500, it’ll recoup that initial cost in just a few years via energy bill savings.
8. Empty your exposed pipes. Frozen pipes burst and are a massive headache. They’re expensive to fix, but they’re cheap to prevent. Draining your outdoor and exposed pipes will ensure that they don’t freeze. Close the inside valve closest to the pipe and then open the outside valve to drain any water still inside.
9. Use your thermostat wisely. When the temperature outside really starts to drop, you’ll be running your heating system often. This helps keep pipes from freezing and ensures that your home’s inside temperature stays comfortable. Winter isn’t the time to set-and-forget your thermostat, though! It’s essential to make sure that you’re setting it properly, to avoid spending more on your energy bills than necessary – or worse, overworking your furnace and causing it to break down.
You’ll save about 3% on your energy bill for every degree you turn down your thermostat. Even better, if you turn it down 10° when you go to work and at night (around 16 hours a day), you can save up to 30%. Consider upgrading to a smart thermostat – it handles the temperature adjustments automatically and is much more efficient than an old manual unit.
10. Reverse the rotation of your ceiling fans. As you might remember from science class, heat rises. To prevent warm air from leaving the room, reverse the rotation of your ceiling fan (making it run clockwise) to push the heat downward in the winter. As a result, the hot air your furnace is producing will be gently pushed back down, keeping it down closer to the space you’re occupying. Some fans have a switch above the fan blades, while others use a pull-cord to change the direction – just be sure to stop the fan first!
Get your insulation ready for winter
11. Increase the amount of insulation in your home. You can’t see it easily, but insulation is your best friend when winterizing your home. Adding new or extra insulation to your attic, roof, walls, and ducts will massively improve the overall comfort level of your home and will dramatically lower your monthly energy bills too. While the average cost to add new insulation is around $1,300, adding extra insulation or repairing old insulation can be much cheaper.
12. Insulate your pipes. An easy way you can add insulation yourself is by wrapping your pipes. This greatly decreases the chance of frozen pipes, and it’ll also save you money on hot water. A great way to check if a pipe needs insulation is by checking its outside temperature. If it’s very hot or cold, add insulation. Most hardware stores stock pre-slit pipe foam and materials with the highest R-value will yield the best results.
Other ways to winterize
Of course, there are also simple changes that might not make as big of a difference as some we’ve already talked about, but they’re also very cheap, or even free.
13. Start a fire. Grab some extra firewood and build a fire in your fireplace. A properly maintained fireplace will reduce your heating costs, and it’ll also give your home that cozy feeling we’re all looking for in the winter.
14. Wear warmer clothing. Put on that comfy sweater as you lounge around binging on Netflix. A good pair of slippers will make you feel much warmer than walking around the house in socks or with bare feet. Snuggle up in a fuzzy blanket. For added warmth, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate.
As you can see, there are many effective ways you can prepare your home for winter. Some might be more expensive than you thought, but others are cheap, easy, and DIY-friendly. Enjoy a comfortable winter by accomplishing as many of these winterizing projects as you can. You’ll be glad you did!