It is the season to be jolly, indeed, but not necessarily about the cold that’s slowly creeping up through all the nooks and crannies of your house. The winter solstice is upon us, marking the shortest and darkest day, so we need to turn the thermostat or the heating system up. That will surely reflect on your bill, as it did in all past winters. But not necessarily this one, because we’ve got 12 amazing tips for winterizing your home, so that you can be productive, eco-friendly, save energy and, ultimately, money.
1. Upgrade your thermostat
The first stop on the way to getting winterized is the thermostat. What you can do about it is to either replace it with a programmable one or upgrade it if you can. You will find that this measure is quite needed and it will save you a lot of money and energy. The idea behind the change is to basically have the programmable thermostat turn off or lower the heat when nobody is at home or when you are all on vacation and it’s not needed.
The primary way in which heat leaks out of the house is via the windows, which are not always air tight. Wooden windows are usually the leaky ones because wood is an organic material which expands from the heat in the summer and from water like rain and snow and contracts from the cold. The only thing is that when it does contract, it never comes back to its exact initial shape and that’s when the leaks occur. Here are some more tips:
- Replace all the old windows. It might be pricey at first, but the investment will be worth it in time;
- Use clear plastic, caulk or even bubble wrap to seal of all the windows (and patio doors while you’re at it);
- Uncover all the windows of the house that are facing south so that you can benefit from the full heat of the sun;
3. Using nature
You can plant evergreen trees close to your house as a way of shielding it against the wind, rain and snowstorms. It’s a natural and simple solution to a big problem and it will help more than you think. In wind and snowstorms your house’s walls get cold really fast and your heater has to work much more than normal in order to keep them warm. You can help it out by protecting them from the storms. If you live near the park, your location is ideal.
4. Rework the chimney
If you’re using a fireplace, then your chimney is completely necessary. However, a chimney doesn’t just release the smoke out into the outdoors, but also a good part of the resulting heat. Therefore, one solution to this problem is to consider adding an insert which will divert most of the heat towards the inside. A good thing here is to make sure you contract the best and most experienced installer you can find. It will cost you a bit more, but fireplaces and chimneys are not to be toyed with, as you’re preparing for the winter.
5. Draft snakes
You might remember seeing these particular items in your grandma’s house. That’s because they first appeared during the Depression era, as a great way of reducing energy waste. And guess what, they’re back. Given the fact that heating is so expensive these days, this method of keeping the hot air in for longer periods of time and reducing drafts underneath doors or at the bottom of windows is back in. You can craft some very fancy ones yourself, even in the Yule spirit. You can also make them with your children, as a cute and fun DIY project.
7. Ceiling fans
Another trick you can use is to turn the direction of your ceiling fans. The rule is as follows: a counter-clockwise rotation will produce cold air and a clockwise-rotation of the ceiling fan will produce warm air. According to some recent studies, utilizing this method will actually help you cut the heating costs with as much as 10 per cent. Only remember that the ceiling fan works on electricity, so don’t abuse it. Because what you save on gas, you might end up paying for electricity.
One of the most obvious solutions on the subject of how to winterize a house is insulation. You need to know a couple of things here. If your house doesn’t have it, you need to insulate it now. If it has it, check to see how old it is. Insulation wears off in time, gets wet or acquires small empty gauges inside the material itself, which will eventually allow the hot air to leave the house and the cold air to permeate it. Therefore, the best solution is to simply load up on insulation as much as you can. Add more in between your walls, to the attic floor, which means your ceiling and to the basement ceiling which means your floor, so that the temperatures inside the house remain constantly toasty.
9. The plumbing
There are a few things you can do with your plumbing in order to make sure you don’t waste any heat through them:
- Insulating the water pipes around your water heater is a good idea, so that you can then set it to “warm” instead of “hot, because the pipes are not losing any heat;
- Insulate all the water pipes that run through cold areas of the house. When that happens, the water gets colder;
- Insulate all the cold water pipes so that they don’t freeze over the winter;
- Replace the caulking around your bathtub and your shower.
10. Checking the house
Houses get old, the same as people and they need some work done from time to time, especially in winter. The cold air can come in through many unexpected places, so here is a checklist for you to consider:
- If your house is made of bricks, you should check the mortar, because it might have cracks in it;
- Sometimes shingles can fall off or get worn and you won’t even notice, but that’s a major leakage point for heat during the winter. So make a routine check before the first snow falls, when you can still see the roof.
- You can also check the foundation and seal away any cracks you might find there.
- Check to see if the garage is not too cold or draughty and causes temperatures to drop in adjacent rooms or allows the cold air to come in.
- Seal off any vacant rooms in your house and stop using them for the winter. There’s no need to heat them up.
- Use the house kitchen wisely and prepare meals during the day. Turn down the thermostat and let the heat from the ovens warm up the rooms. This will save a good couple of hours, until the food is cooked and all the residual heat is gone.
11. Warm clothes
Of course, warm clothes do not mean wearing boots and coats inside the house, but you should always wear socks and slippers, because if your feet are warm, so will the rest of your body be. Second of all, it’s not a very good idea to crank up the thermostat so high as to be able to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt. Not only because of the high consumption of heat, energy or gas, but for your health as well. Doctors do not recommend spending the winter months continuously moving from the bitter cold outside to the blazing heat inside. Ideal temperatures should be kept at a decent level, and you should be able to wear a sweater inside.
12. The A/C unit
Winterization is the moment when you can get rid of it. Not permanently, but, since you won’t be using it in winter time, you can remove it from the window and seal off all the holes and cracks. The idea behind this is that, usually, A/Cs are not fitted perfectly into walls or windows and they have a lot of small places through which cold air can get in. Another thing you can do about the A/C unit in order to winterize your home is to cover it with a tarp, if you don’t want to put it away for the winter. The US Department of Energy says 5 to 30 per cent of all the energy is wasted away via drafts every year. Which makes drafts the number one enemy.
Here are your top 12 winterizing tips and pieces of advice on how to keep your house warmer this year without adding anything to your bills. And although not all of them might be for you, be on the look-out for signs that your house could use some help when it comes to heating. Also, remember you’re not only doing yourself and your family a favor, but the environment also. There’s no need to turn to the solutions they’re selling and advertising, like adding more heaters. The less energy you use, the greener you are.