Before the winter weather hits, winterize your home. It not only saves you money, but also makes your home more comfortable. As colder weather approaches, homeowners feel a different kind of heat – high energy bills caused by inefficient protection from the weather.
Look for These Culprits When You Winterize Your Home
Often the culprits are inefficient windows and doors that compromise the home's “envelope” – the fixtures and surfaces that together help regulate indoor temperatures and provide protection from the elements. When it comes to saving energy, it pays to conserve. American consumers pay about $25 billion annually to heat and cool air that eventually leaks to the outdoors. The collective cost for this wasted energy is enormous, an amount equivalent to the value of the oil produced by the Alaska Pipeline.
Are your windows leaking out precious heat?
It makes sense to think about the efficiency of your home. As you do, take some time to consider your windows. Windows are one of the leading sources of air leakage, allowing hot air to creep indoors during the summer and warm, heated air to work its way outside in the colder months. By taking the appropriate steps, you can effectively boost window insulation and better maintain the overall comfort level of your home. Any leak in the home envelope hits the pocketbook.
Energy lost through windows alone can account for 10 percent to 25 percent of a household's heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Now is the time to spend a little extra effort inspecting your home to make sure fixtures are in the best possible condition for combating cold, wet weather. Look for warping or cracks that indicate repairs or replacements are needed.
How to Find the Leaks
Use your senses to detect places letting air in and out. Hold a lighted candle or burning incense near closed windows and doors. Movement of air shows by the moving flame or smoke, if cold air is infiltrating indoors or warm air is seeping out. Feel for cold spots and look for condensation on cold surfaces. Badly insulted window build up condensation, sometimes even getting a layer of ice on the glass panes on cold days.
Inspect seals and weatherstrips. Look around the window for gaps. If you can see the window to the outside, then it's loose. Some maybe tight enough not let you see around but if they move when giving them shake, that means your windows are lose. And, they leak precious heat and letting in cold air.
Same for doors, check for space between the door and door frame. Do the doors close and open properly? Now is a good time to make adjustments while you winterize your home.
Keeping the Cold Out
Windows sometimes need replaced. However, there are steps you can take to keep your windows working longer.
1. Fix What's Broken or Worn
Caulk cracks or holes in your windows or install weather stripping around the window sash and frame to seal off the areas prone to air flow. Be sure the storm windows have sufficient weather stripping and interlocking or overlapping joints to maximize their effectiveness. However, waterproof and mildew resistant caulks are best for using in such conditions. Make sure the caulk is made of silicone so that it does not crack in disastrous weather conditions.
2. Apply Extra Protection
Install either interior or exterior storm windows. Storm windows can easily reduce the heat loss through your windows by 25 percent to 50 percent while limiting drafts and condensation. If you have storm windows, be sure to lower the glass panes over your screens during cold months to create an extra layer of protection against the cold
Insulate your home with energy-efficient window treatments, such as cellular shades, that provide an insulating barrier on your windows to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping.
Keep window treatments closed at night. Open them during the day to take advantage of the sun's rays for natural solar heating.
Clean your windows, especially on the southern side of your home. This allows for maximum solar gain throughout the day and clean glass allows this to happen more readily.
3. Install Insulation Film
It's not the most attractive thing for your windows, but insulation film can reduce the amount of heat loss for a home with leaky windows. It's also very economical when you're being budget conscious. Older home with original windows are culprits for energy inefficiency. But, maybe you don't want to replace those vintage windows. Especially in an historic home! Insulation film can help a lot to keep the warmth in and cold out. It's been found to keep up to 70% of heat from escaping.
4. Install Draft Guards
Gaps under doors can make walking across the floor harsh. Close those gaps with draft guards you slide over the bottom of doors to close out cold drafts.
5. Service Your Furnace
Change out the filters regularly. Have a periodic checkup by an expert to make sure your heating/cooling system is clean and working efficiently. Better to do these things before a cold front comes and leaves you in the cold!
6. Close Your Fireplace Vent
Whenever you aren't using your fireplace close its vent. Otherwise your home's heat will continually escape out of the chimney.
7. Adjust Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are not just for summer. Ceiling fans moving in a clockwise direction push hot air along the ceiling towards the floor. Use counterclockwise for summer to draw the heat up.
8. Insulate Attic
Check your attic for sufficient insulation. If your attic isn't insulated well, your home will lose heat through your roof. A layer on the attic floor and walls will keep the heat in and cold out.
It's not just heating your home that's important. Other areas also need attention when you winterize your home. For instance, the gutters could use a good cleaning after the fall leaves have filled them with debris. Full gutter cause roof damage and you don't want to want those unneeded costs, do we.
Cover your water faucets outdoors with insulated covers. This also goes for pipes inside the home. Pipes, especially by outside walls can be prone to freezing. Insulate as needed. Those that are very troublesome (like a certain bathroom faucet in the farmhouse where I grew up) need additional help to keep from freezing. In its case a pipe heating cable was needed.
If you have a sprinkler system, make sure it's flushed and insulated as well. Take that advice from the experience of new home owner who didn't know. Winterizing will save your money. This guide can help you.
Clean away debris like dead plants and mulch to protect bushes, trees, and dormant perennials and bulb plants. Leaves and dead plants piled up against the house is an invitation for pests to come roaming for a warm place to call home.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful while you winterize your home. Stay warm and cozy!