Winterizing your home creates a cozy space, lowers energy bills, and prevents damage such as broken eavestroughs or a cracked foundation. The following steps can be completed in a weekend—and all for less than $180.
Check that your rain gutter spouts are pointing away from your house and there are no blockages. Doing this can save you from an expensive and potentially catastrophic foundation problem. If water from the roof is repeatedly deposited beside your home, the soil becomes saturated with moisture. In the winter, that moisture turns to ice, which expands and creates cracks in your home’s foundation. Over time, those cracks become larger and larger until there is a flood or structural damage.
Extend the life of your furnace, save energy, reduce duct cleaning, and improve indoor air quality by changing (or washing) your furnace filters. Washable filters use an electrostatic process to capture dust and particles and although they cost more upfront (approximately $100), they pay for themselves in less than two years. Disposable filters cost an average of $20 each and should be changed every three months. Washable filters may be cleaned up to 60 times depending on the product specifications.
Drafts swoop down chimneys in the wintertime (even with the flue closed) and cold seeps through the walls of the stack. For as little as $40, a chimney balloon or plug fits just above the hearth and will keep your heat indoors and the cold outdoors by blocking the fireplace opening. Don’t forget that the opposite is true at the peak of summer. In July and August, when you don’t need a fireplace, seal it to save on air-conditioning costs.
Winter heating is typically the largest single consumer of household energy (e.g., gas or electricity). With rising utility costs, it makes cents to put on a sweater or an extra blanket instead of cranking up the heat. Turn down the thermostat at night and whenever household members are away at work or school.
A programmable thermostat is a convenient way to automatically set different temperatures for various times of the day and night. In the long run, this saves effort and money. However, these are best for standard furnaces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat may interfere with the optimal functioning of heat pumps, electric resistance heating, steam heat or radiant floor heating.
Drafts can waste five to 30 per cent of a home’s energy, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation. Check for drafts by holding a lit stick of incense near doors, windows and chimneys; where the smoke wavers, there’s a draft. To seal windows, use weatherstripping tape, which costs as little as $5 per roll. For your doors, there are all sorts of products for less than $20 that either fit next to the door or wrap around the bottom.
Electrical outlets, especially those on an external-facing wall, can allow cold to seep into your living space. Conversely, in the summer, the outlets bring unwelcome warmth into your air-conditioned home. A simple once and done solution is to install insulating covers underneath the wall plates. These cost approximately $5 each.
Have you ever noticed the difference in the air temperature near the windows when you first open the curtains? Window glass is a poor insulator allowing some cold and heat to pass through. Heavy curtains are one solution. In the winter, when you want to enjoy as much natural light as possible, a better solution is insulation film. The thin plastic shrinks to fit the window with the heat of a hair dryer and costs as little as $15.
With a small investment of effort and money, you can enjoy a cozy, draft-free space as you save money.
“How to winterize your home,” David Suzuki Foundation, accessed October 27, 2021, https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/how-to-winterize-your-home.
“Thermostats,” US Department of Energy, accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats.
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