You likely already know that preparing your home for winter can keep your energy bills down, and keep you from wearing parkas indoors (thereby receiving strange looks and complaints about freezing temperatures from guests). However, knowing exactly how to prep isn’t always easy, and there’s a lot more to think about than you might expect. Check out these 10 steps for winterizing your home, and you’ll be more than ready for the season’s dropping temperatures.
1. Insulate. Insulate. Insulate.
Yes, this one seems pretty obvious – you want to keep the cold air out and the warm air in, and insulating is the way to do that. Before you start feeling like a pro at preparing your home for winter and skip to the next point, stop for a second and think about all of the different places that you’ll need to insulate to protect your home from the cold. Then, take a walk around your home and keep an eye out for cracks around windows, doors, etc. Scope out your weather stripping situation and make sure those little space around your doors is as airtight as possible. Take a trip to the attic and check on the insulation situation there. Look for those little spaces around outlets and recessed lights. You’ll probably find some unexpected surprises. The U.S. Department of Energy has some great tips for detecting air leaks.
Supplies: Caulk, caulking gun, weather stripping, insulation, foam sealant, patience
2. Think about your windows
In a typical one-story house, 15 to 22 percent of heat loss is attributable to the windows. Replacing windows isn’t the most glamorous or fun home upgrade you can make, but when the temperature starts to plummet, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it. Double- or triple-pane windows are definitely better than older, single-pane varieties. If you’re not sure you want to let those single-panes go, think about installing storm windows.
Supplies: Windows, storm windows, installer (or a lot of ambition)
3. Go get those gutters
Gutters aren’t anybody’s favorite part of their home, and cleaning them downright sucks. Motivate yourself to get all those fall leaves out of yours, and you’ll be extra happy when snow flows away from your house instead of onto it. You also have better odds of not dealing with ice dams and any related water damage caused by the dreaded ice dam + less-than-perfect-roof combo.
Supplies: Gloves, bags for leaves, replacement gutters (if necessary), ladder, balance and coordination
4. Shut it up
Outside vents left open can bring in a ton of cold air during the winter. Take a walk around your property and close any that you see. If you have rooms that you don’t typically use, close the doors to those as well.
Supplies: A good coat to keep you warm while you’re braving the cold outdoors
5. Don’t forget your trees
Maybe all of the leaves have already fallen off and your trees are looking like sad, naked stick figures, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t potential hazards. Trim any branches that are near your home, and you won’t have to deal with roof damage if a big storm hits.
Supplies: Tree trimmer, lawn bags, willing assistant
6. Fancify your furnace
If you’re terrified of the noise-making, heat-producing, human-sized thing in your basement, get over it. Scoping out your furnace is key to keeping warm all winter (and cool in the summer). It’s recommended that you change your furnace filter monthly to prolong its life and help it do a better job. If the filter looks dirty and is difficult to see through when held up to the light, it’s time to change it. Luckily, this isn’t a difficult or expensive task – some filters can be picked up for around $20.
Supplies: Furnace filter, fearlessness
7. Start singing the chimney song from Mary Poppins
It’ll make forking out the cash to have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected a lot more fun, promise. This definitely isn’t the place to cut corners – The National Fire Protection Association found that failure to clean creosote (which is what your chimney inspector will look for) from “solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys” was the main cause of home heating fires.
Supplies: Good chimney sweep, copy of Mary Poppins, singing voice
8. Efficiency-ify your outdoor space
Replacing your outdoor bulbs with energy-efficient models can save you some serious dough during the dark early winter months, which will help counteract the energy cost of the Griswald-worthy holiday light display you’re planning. The U.S. Department of Energy has some great tips on upping your home’s outdoor efficiency level.
Supplies: Energy-efficient bulbs, gloves, reminder to turn lights off before conducting upgrade
9. Snuggle your pipes
Ever been outside in the freezing winter weather without a jacket and thought you might be transformed into a Popsicle? Your pipes feel the same way. Winterize your plumbing by giving your pipes a nice winter jacket (of sorts) in order to prevent a major frozen-or-burst headache.
Supplies: Foam insulation, pipe dreams, pipe wrap, heat tape
10. Sit back and relax
What good is winterizing your home if you don’t kick back and enjoy it? Grab a cup of hot cocoa, put on some cozy slippers, and pat yourself on the back for being a responsible homeowner. You earned it.
Supplies: Beverage, blanket, cozy seat, big exhale