Anyone who’s suffered through a harsh New York winter knows that keeping your home warm can be a struggle. It’s not just your health that suffers, either: A house that loses heat or is warmed inefficiently can lead to soaring utility bills and costly appliance breakdowns.
Don’t let that be you this winter. Want to know how to winterize a house yourself? Save energy and money, head down to your local plumbing supply store, and follow this DIY checklist!
Seal Your Doors and Windows
The first and most obvious places to check in your home are the entry and exit points—namely, your doors and windows. If they’re not adequately stopping the heat from escaping, or if they’re letting a cold draft in, then they’re not doing their job and will only put a strain on your heating system.
Even the smallest gap between a window and the sill, or the door and its frame, can let out a significant amount of heat. Installing weatherstripping is a simple but very effective way to closing those gaps, and it should be done to most, if not all, doors and windows in your home.
There are various types of weatherstrips available to buy, but this doesn’t need to break the bank. Even a roll of foam tape should do the trick in most cases, and it will only cost a couple of dollars.
For a bigger gap between doors and the floor, buying a draft snake is your best bet. As the name implies, these will quickly and effectively stop frosty drafts from coming in, as well as trapping the heat in rooms where you most need it. Pay attention especially to doors that lead to semi-outdoor areas, such as a garage or enclosed patio.
If you’re feeling creative, you don’t even have to shell out for a new draft snake. Old stockings filled with rags and cloths will do the trick just as well, and you’re recycling to boot!
Glass is a fairly good thermal insulator, but, when the thermometer drops to zero, there’s only so much warmth a single window pane can hold in. Double glazing your windows vastly improves heat retention in winter, but it’s expensive and needs to be done by a professional.
For a more inexpensive DIY option that’ll be done before the frost hits, consider picking up some insulating film for your windows. Not only will it trap more heat in the winter, but it’ll help keep your place cooler in the summer, too.
Adding a storm door to a major entryway in your home is like adding an extra layer of insulation to a major heat exit point. As well as this, a storm door will mean that whenever you’re entering or leaving the house, there’s less time for that point to be open and letting out a big bunch of nice warm air.
The initial outlay of a storm door might not be as cheap as simply plugging up some drafts, but, in the long run, the energy savings will offset this cost. Governments will also often offer tax credits or rebates for storm door installation—it’s worthwhile checking this before you start.
Winterize Your Plumbing
To give the systems in your house the best chance to run efficiently and not break down, you’ll need to winterize them thoroughly. This means performing all necessary maintenance and double-checking pipes and lines to make sure they’ll withstand the cold weather.
Freezing in the pipes can make them burst or blocked, sometimes rendering the entire system unusable. Before that happens, make sure you:
- Check any outside water lines, such as garden hoses, sprinkler systems, or pool inlets and outlets, and ensure they’re fully drained.
- Empty out the water lines and drain pan on your A/C system and cover the external unit.
- Clear guttering and downpipes of any buildup or debris.
- Install cladding or insulation on any pipes that are in unheated spaces like the basement or garage.
- Check air filters and ductwork on your furnace and replace if necessary.
- Allow the faucets to drip slowly if you’re away for an extended period of time, and make sure your drains are unblocked and functioning.
- In heated spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom, leave cabinet doors under the sink open so that the pipes get some of that warm air.
- Cover your water heater with a specialized water heater blanket designed to prevent heat loss and maximize the efficiency of the unit.
Save Money with These Quick Tips
While many of the ways to winterize your home will hit your wallet, there are some simple and effective tricks you can do that won’t cost you a cent. Better still, these won’t just keep your house warmer, but save you money, too!
Run Your Fans in Reverse
Many overhead fans have a reverse mode, where the blades will spin in the opposite direction. This isn’t just a gimmick! Just like you were taught in high school, hot air rises. Normally, an overhead fan will suck up this heat—but putting it in reverse will push it back down toward the floor and circulate the warm air through the room.
Turn Down the Thermostat
This might seem counterintuitive—after all, if you want to stay warm, shouldn’t the temperature be as high as possible? In fact, the human body will adjust and be just as comfortable at 65-70 degrees than at 80 degrees, especially at night.
Not only will it put your heating system under less strain, but it will also save you up to 15% off your electricity bill. Try it for a couple of hours a day, at first, and you’ll be surprised by how little you’ll notice the difference in temperature.
Protect Your Plants
We often forget about the garden in the winter, but the sad truth is that many plants don’t fare well with frost and snow. Do your best to cover them up, and you’ll save money in the spring when you don’t have to redo your entire outdoor display.
Better yet, bring whatever plants you can indoors. Not only will it prevent them from an untimely death, but the greenery will also help clean the air and provide a little bit of extra free heat. It’s a win-win.
Switch Your Lights
With winter come long hours of darkness and the temptation to have every light in the house blazing at all times. If that’s what you do, make sure you’re using high-efficiency LED bulbs to cut down on energy and money.
Regardless, you should consider how many of those lights you really need on at all times. Switch them off when you’re not using the room and rearrange indirect lighting sources so that you get more brightness and coverage from a single bulb.
Stay in Touch with Expert Advice
When winter’s knocking at your door, the thought of all the things you need to do to winterize your house can be overwhelming. There are so many things you can do that it’s hard to know where to start!
To kick your plans into gear, drop by to see the friendly team at your local plumbing supply store, Brinkmann’s Hardware. With four massives stores at four handy locations, we’ve got everything you need to turn your home into a warm and cozy refuge this winter. For unbeatable specials, expert advice, and more incredible tips for every season, sign up to our mailing list today!