While I originally featured “5 Ways to Winterize Your Home” on this blog, I had quite a few readers e-mail me with more great ideas to make one’s home more efficient (think cozy without the high energy/heating bill) for the winter season. I have complied a list of the ones that I thought were the best. Enjoy.
As the air outside turns cold, many rodents and birds will start to look for warmer places to stay. One of these places may turn out to be your chimney. Make sure you have a tightly secured cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep these creatures out. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while (if you can’t remember calling one, it is probably time), call a chimney sweep to remove soot form the interior. When soot builds up inside a fireplace, it can actually become relit, starting a second fire within your chimney during the next use (very dangerous).
As long as you are taking care of your chimney, why not purchase some firewood the next time you are out. Always better to have it ready when you actually need it, then scramble for it at the last second. Make sure to store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
2. Doors, Windows. & Exterior
Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weatherstripping. Before it gets to cold, be sure to take the time to inspect the exterior of your home for cracks and exposed entry points. These tend to be found around small openings into your home such as around pipes. When found, make sure to seal them with a good exterior caulk or expandable foam. I recently re-caulked the edges of my front windows, added some expandable foam to the area around my air conditioner line into the house, and added some mortar repair caulk a few places where I found weathered away stone around the foundation.
Regarding entry points into your home, check to make sure there is a good seal around the doors when closed by moving your hand along the seal when it is a windy day outside. If you can feel air come through, apply some weatherstripping around the frame of the door to prevent cold air from entering the home.
If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
Since this is the Midwest, it is hard to predict what this winter (or any for that matter) will bring, but most likely the average temperature will be below 32 degrees. One of the best ways to prevent heat loss in your home is to add extra insulation to the attic.
At least once during the Fall, it is recommended to get out the ladder and take a trip onto your roof for its condition. Check your roof’s flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Also, make sure to replace any worn roof shingles or tiles that you may find (YouTube videos are a great source of instruction). If there is a way for melting snow to leak into your home, it will. Just think how often in the past that snow has remained on your roof for extended periods of time.
4. Gutters & Downspouts
Don’t put away that ladder just yet. Not all the leaves on those trees in your (or your neighbor’s) yard fall to the ground. Many of these leaves will end up on your roof. Leaves often clog up downspouts on a home so it is best to clean out the gutters once a season. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by using a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Also, you may want consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
At some point this winter, you will need to break out the salt and sand so it is best to buy it ahead of time to make sure you have it in your home when needed. Now is also a good time to drain the gas from your lawnmowers and equipment that you will not use until the spring. Leaving gas in the tank for extending periods of time will shorten the length of its use. Don’t forget to turn off the pipes that lead to your water hoses as well as hauling these garden hoses inside. Leaving hoses out during the winter is a sure way to for them to break as water left inside will expand and rip portions open upon freezing.