It’s time to think about winter even though our weather has rewarded us with late in the season, summer-like temperatures. One thing for sure is that winter will arrive before we know it. Many of us plan each year to winterize our trailer, cottage, or boat but making a plan to winterize your home is just as important.
If your house is your biggest asset, why not protect it from problems that could result in costly repairs while saving money on your energy bills?
Winterizing your home does not have to be a big task. Small steps to manage wear and tear and maintain heat within your four walls can make a big difference. Here are some simple tips to prepare for the winter season.
How to Winterize Your Home
and Save Money Too
Reverse your ceiling fan direction
Some models of home ceiling fans have a reverse mode. When switched to move in a clockwise direction, it pushes down the warm air trapped between the fan and the ceiling and circulates warmth throughout your home. This is an easy task!
Remove drafts from your air conditioner
Cover your outside air conditioner with a fitted cover or a piece of wood on the top. This small task will stop drafts from entering your home.
Inspect your gas dryer exhaust
First, ensure the outside exhaust pipe is free from lint and snow, then cover with a fine mesh outside to allow CO2 to escape outside and avoid any snow or debris (or rodents) from coming inside.
Check your furnace and make it more efficient
Check your furnace is in working order before the cold weather starts. Please turn it on and make sure it fires up. If you notice an odd smell at first, wait and see if it disappears. If not, call a professional to get it inspected. Change your furnace filter before winter every year. A dirty filter not only restricts airflow, making your furnace work harder to pump the heat, it also reduces the air quality inside your home. Filters are available at any hardware store or home centre; just jot down the make and model to buy the correct size.
Clean your gutters and downspouts to avoid melting snow runoff and ice
Eliminate leaves and debris to avoid clogs that can create flooding and ice blockages. With this task, the biggest challenge is getting up on a sturdy ladder to reach inside the eavestrough.
Manage your thermostat temperature
First, check that your thermostat battery is fully charged. Most of your energy savings can come from using your thermostat more efficiently. For every degree you reduce on your thermostat, you can save as much as 5% on your heating bill. Reducing the heat is possible by changing your indoor routine. For example, wearing slippers in the house and a sweater or using extra blankets at night can make a temperature reduction feel comfortable, instead of the costly routine of turning up the thermostat to warm the entire home. A programmable thermostat is recommended to keep indoor temperatures consistent.
Draft proof your home
Cold drafts in your home can account for 5-30% of your homes’ heat and energy loss, which will increase your heating bills over time. Typically, drafts come from windows, doors, electrical outlets, attics, and fireplaces. Most of these problems can be solved by adding weather stripping to windows and doors and caulking around the windows. Another option is investing in storm windows or doors. They can seal the outside cold and protect your home with an additional layer of glass. Another easy solution is to replace your summer curtains with heavyweight, thermal lined drapery also to manage the draft.
Drafts from outside walls can come in the house from electrical outlets. Adding spray foam to gaps or plastic electrical outlet protectors can alleviate this problem. The attic is also a significant source of heat loss. First, check for staining from water leakage, and ensure there is enough new, clean, and fluffy insulation. Ensure the attic is well ventilated with an external or electrical fan to prevent dampness that causes mould and mildew.
Check your fireplace for problems
Animal nests, debris, and creosote can buildup in your chimney and cause fires. This is a job best left to experts. Call a chimney sweep service to check for drafts in your fireplace and unclog your chimney before your first winter use.
Avoid pipes from freezing and bursting
Another way to winterize your home is to avoid major problems such as frozen and bursting pipes. Water expands when it freezes. When winter arrives, this water expansion can cause your pipes to rupture. This situation impacts lines on outside walls, and often the damage is between the freeze and the faucet.
A few important tasks to avoid this problem:
- Drain, and then close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the external valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the line to break.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas. Look in the garage and under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Add insulation around both the hot and cold-water pipes in these areas.
- Consider buying specific products made to insulate water pipes. Look for pipe sleeves, heat tape or heat cable at your local hardware store or home centre to fix this problem.
Inspect your roof
Your roof can receive an immense amount of wear and tear from snow, rain, ice, and wind. Winterize your roof by inspecting it for broken, frayed, curled or missing shingles. Look for clogged spots that can collect excessive rain or snow. Cut back overhanging branches to prevent damage to shingles and gutters.
Save Money and Winterize Your Home?
Before you start these tasks, check if you qualify for the Ontario Energy Savings Program. This is a government program to support energy savings in Ontario homes. Find more details here about Ontario’s winterizing your home energy savings program here.
To find more articles about Ottawa homes, and managing your biggest asset, click here. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re not sure how to protect and enhance your home for a future sale.