Winter is on its way, meaning it’s time for you to break out the sweaters, hats and mittens and, for many homeowners, the caulking gun, the duct-tape and the ladder. Making sure your home is ready to take on the winter can significantly lower your energy usage and thereby increase your energy savings in costs.
Winterizing your home is all about insulation; making sure that the heat you have doesn’t get lost through the walls, the roof, the windows or the doors. Think of heat as a prisoner and your house as the prison; you wouldn’t put up small fences or allow porous openings where your prisoner can escape, would you?
Insulation works the same way, fortifying the walls of your house. The first wall you’re going to want to fortify is the one on the top of your house, your roof and attic. Heat rises and this is where it’s either going to stop or escape. While it may not be prudent to re-insulate every wall in the house, you should make sure that you have sufficient insulation in your attic. The preferred insulation for effective heat trapping is about 6-9 inches. If your insulation falls short of that you should invest in a couple more inches.
Windows and doors are also a major cause of heat-loss in the home. Cracks and gaps and other openings, resultant from the house shifting, as they do over the years, will affect your house’s temperature more dramatically than may seem. Depending on the level of cracks, you may need to replace your windows.
However, that is a costly endeavor; you can take care of these cracks, at least temporarily, with some caulking or by covering your windows with insulating plastic found at your local hardware store. Door leaks can be solved with some weather stripping, which is fairly cost effective, or by stuffing up the gaps with a towel or rag.
Clean out your gutters! Your gutter can be a reservoir for water to seep into your roof as the fallen leaves and ice block water flow. Cleaning out your gutters will keep that water from backing up onto your roof and getting underneath the shingles. Leaks will at least make you aware of the fault, but mold may not be so easy to identify without any immediate symptoms but could present a real problem as spring arrives.
Make sure you’ve had your furnace checked out before the first real cold comes. A new furnace can be incredibly expensive but yearly tune-ups can extend the life of your furnace for only about $100. While you’re working on your furnace, follow your ducts and make sure there isn’t any air leaking out; after all, what good is paying for heat if it never gets to you! A couple strips of duct-tape can stop up those leaks. You should also be mindful of leaks caused by burst pipes resulting from freezing; you can easily fix that by insulating your pipes with rubber or fiberglass sleeves.
By using these steps your house should be ready to take on the winter and keep your energy costs low at the same time.
About the Author
Jim Klossner is a plumbing and HVAC professional who has been writing about home improvement for Cahill for nearly a decade. When he’s not writing, you can find Jim tackling his own home improvement projects.