When the leaves begin to fall and the first frost settles on the grass, you know that the coldest months of the year are on their way. Winterizing your house in preparation for cold temperatures is highly important for your family’s comfort, as well as for your home’s energy efficiency.
Let’s look at five effective tips to winterize your home. These practices can help to ensure that your house is ready to brave the frigid temperatures and frozen precipitation that winter brings.
1. Clean Out the Gutters
While clearing out the sticks, leaves, yard nuts, and other debris from your gutters is important year-round, giving your gutters a thorough cleaning before the temperatures begin to drop significantly is especially important.
Be sure to thoroughly clean your gutters after the majority of leaves and other debris have fallen off trees that are close to your house. Failing to properly clean your gutters before temperatures drop below the freezing point can allow debris and ice to dam up the gutters, potentially causing damage to both drainpipes and the roof.
2. Furnace Maintenance and Inspection
Keeping your home’s furnace in good working order is a key element of preparing your house for the cold temperatures of winter. Hire a certified heating specialist to inspect your furnace before the coldest months begin.
Relying on a furnace that requires maintenance or repair will likely increase your energy costs without providing the amount of heat that will keep your home cozy when it gets cold. Even worse, a furnace that hasn’t been properly maintained can break down, resulting in a preventable home heating emergency. Changing filters on your furnace on a regular basis can help avert these problems down the road.
3. Insulate Pipes
While this element of home winterization may sound intimidating at first, it is actually a simple job and is one of the most effective methods of winterizing your home. Insulating your pipes can help to keep them from freezing, bursting, and causing damage to the plumbing in your home.
Foam pipe insulation tubes are available at most home improvement stores and online. Once you determine the diameter of the pipes that you intend to insulate, simply purchase the foam insulation tubes of the corresponding size, cut them to the correct length, and place them around the pipes. Focus on those pipes that are closest to the exterior of the home, as these are most likely to freeze. You can shut off the water supply to the spigots that run outside your home to help avoid this problem.
4. Seal Exterior Doors and Windows
One of the most common reasons that houses become drafty and cold during the winter months is outside air coming in through openings around doors or windows. Especially in the case of older homes, insulation around door and window frames may be inadequate or warped, allowing heat to escape.
Sealing exterior doors and windows can be accomplished in a number of ways, including the use of storm doors and windows, caulking all gaps around door and window frames, and even sealing windows with clear plastic wrap for the entirety of the season.
5. Reverse the Direction of Ceiling Fans
During the warmer months, ceiling fans can help to make your home energy efficient by circulating cool air upward and throughout the room. Many newer ceiling fan models include a switch that changes the direction of the fan, precisely for the purpose of winterization.
Setting your ceiling fan to spin clockwise will continually push the hottest air in the room back downward, away from the ceiling and toward the parts of the room that people occupy. This simple tip can help you decrease the need for excessive furnace heating, saving you energy costs all winter long!
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