Regardless of whether you live in a log cabin in the woods or a contemporary dwelling in the city, getting your home ready for Winter can be a daunting task, which is why we have assembled these nine straightforward tips and tricks to help you along the way. Good luck!
1. Insulate your windows: Insulating your windows is one of the most reliable methods for keeping cold air out and warm air in. There are several products on the market that can help. If you would like to remove this item from the annual Winterization list you could consider replacing your windows instead (see #8: storm doors and windows!)
2. Replace filters: When actively using your heating furnace, it is crucial to regularly replace its filters. These filters are important for trapping dust, debris, mold, and bacteria and keeping your family healthy--but they require occasional maintenance. Keeping these filters clean extends the life of your furnace and lowers your heating costs.
3. Drain water lines: Be sure to drain all your sprinkler lines and hoses. If you have any water leaks in or around your home, now is the best time to seal them as they will be particularly harmful in the winter. Also, don’t forget to remove any window A/C units you might have—they would be a perfect conduit to let cold air in, and we don’t want that.
4. Clockwise fans: Did you know that many ceiling fans can spin in both directions? Traditionally fans spin counterclockwise, so that they circulate cool air down—however, in the Winter they can be switched (there is usually a small switch at the base of the fan) so that they spin clockwise: this pulls cool air up, resulting in a current that brings warm air down from the ceiling.
5. Energy monitor: Purchasing an energy monitor (they often sell for less than $100) can save you and your family money in the long run. These useful little gadgets tell you exactly how much energy you are using, and estimate how much it is costing you—you can use this to test exactly how much energy different appliances use, and puts the power back in your hands.
6. Draft Dodging: Dodge the Winter drafts by blocking the gap at the bottom of doorways with a rolled towel or store-bought draft guard ($10-$15). This will limit the ability of cold air to travel between rooms, and overall bring you additional comfort. For a more permanent fix consider replacing door weather stripping and door sweeps.
7. Chimney Balloon: One of the biggest leaks of air in a home is through the chimney—this is an enormous gap that many people completely forget about. In newer homes, fireplaces should have a damper you can set to close off the hole, but in older homes you may have to use a ‘chimney balloon’ or alternative method to fill up the chimney’s width. Don’t forget to remove this or open the damper when you light a fire!
8. Storm doors & windows: One of the more expensive items on this list, storm doors and windows will make a huge impact on energy efficiency and overall comfort in your home. These handy constructions have the dual effect of providing additional insulation and reducing air flow (drafts).
9. Programmable thermostat: Last but not least, a programmable thermostat is probably the biggest money saver on this entire list! You can schedule the heating of your home based on when you and your family members come and go throughout the day and night, customizing the temperature based on your personal preference. It will save you even more money if you have a tendency to forget to turn your heating off when you leave. You can even get one that synchronizes with an app on your smart phone.
Just a reminder to check your smoke and CO2 detectors. Now that you are heating your home you want to make sure everyone is safe. Let us know if you need any help or have questions!