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If you are wondering how to winterize your home, I have a great checklist of ways to stop the cold from creeping in while your money is sliding out.
While winterizing your home might require some repairs, many solutions are affordable and easy for the average home owner to accomplish without needing special skills.
Since I live in the southern United States, our winters are very mild. However, on occasion we have a cold snap.
I want my home to be tight in the winter, spring, summer, and fall to optimize our savings on electricity. So I am constantly on guard against drafts.
Where does the winter creep into your home?
The best way to winterize your home is to be aware of the main areas where cold air can creep into the house.
One way to identify places in your home that need winterizing it to hire a professional for an energy audit.
An energy auditor will perform a comprehensive investigation of your home by inspecting your attic, basement, water heater, HVAC system, and exterior. After the investigation, the energy auditor will suggest improvements that will improve your home’s energy efficiency.
You can find a list of energy professionals through the US Department of Energy.
If your home is warm but you suddenly notice a cold draft when you walk by a door or window, take the time to inspect to find the problem.
Most homes are losing heat (or letting winter slip through the cracks) in these areas:
- Attics and crawlspaces
- Windows and doors
- Pipes and wiring
Winterize Your Home Step By Step
Set aside two days in order to thoroughly check and winterize your home.
On the first day, inspect your home, make a list of necessary supplies (or see my list below), and go to the home improvement store to purchase the needed items.
Then, on the second day, work on making the repairs.
Checking the Attic for Air Leaks
When you enter the attic, take special note of these areas: the attic door, the rafters (roofline,) attic floor, and ventilation.
At the very least, your home needs a layer of insulation along the attic floor. For even better insulation, use spray foam along the rafters.
Any duct work for your HVAC system should also be sealed tightly. In many situations, duct tape is used to hold pieces of duct work together. Unfortunately, duct tape (despite the name) can loosen over time and leave gaps.
Carefully check duct work for any cracks where cold air could enter or your heated air could escape. Use professional quality aluminum duct tape to secure the joints and cracks.
Before leaving the attic, also check your attic door or hatch for weather-stripping around the edges. Attic door weather-stripping can stop cold air from creeping around the attic door when it is closed.
In the Basement and Crawlspaces
Just as you checked for insulation in the attic, verify you have adequate insulation in the basement or crawlspace. Also install weather stripping around the entry door or hatch.
If there are drafts or cracks, secure these with weatherproofing, caulk, or spray foam insulation.
Around Windows and Doors
One of the easiest things to check for when winterizing your home is open windows. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer, but I was surprised in our home to find two upstairs windows were not completely closed.
When the window is closed completely, check for whistling or drafts to identify any additional leaks. The caulk used around windows can age and crack over time. New caulk should be applied every five years. So, if you notice a draft, this is an excellent and affordable place to start making repairs.
In colder climates when you do not plan to open your window during the winter months, you can even seal over where your window opens with a removable caulk. When the weather warms up, you can peel the caulk away.
If you have windows air conditioner units, consider removing the window until until the weather warms. If removing the unit is not an option, add insulating panels on either side and use caulk or spray foam to seal any holes on the sides where the unit is installed.
Also, when looking around windows and doors, look for cracks of light.
In our previous home, I noticed light peaking around the edge when the door was closed. The remedy was a quick and easy fix. I share the complete tutorial here: How to Winterize Your Front Door.
Another issue we had in our previous home was gaps around the backdoor. The person who lived in the home before us had apparently broken the doorframe. At that time, completely reframing the door was not an option. So, we purchased a storm door to create a protective barrier and sealed the remaining cracks with caulk.
Exposed pipes and wiring
If wind can blow on your pipes or wiring, you likely have a draft inside. You could also be risking frozen pipes.
Seal areas where pipes and wires enter your home from the outside with spray foam or caulk. Then, cover any exposed pipes with insulated covers.
In a pinch, we have used an old towel to wrap around an exterior water faucet but using insulated faucet protectors is a better solution. They are not expensive and can last for several years when well cared for.
Inside your home where electrical outlets and light switches are installed on exterior walls, add socket insulation pads to help seal any drafts.
Winterize Your Home Shopping List
In review, there are several products you may need to help winterize your home. These items are available at local hardware stores, Walmart, Target, and Amazon (through my affiliate links below):
- insulated faucet protectors
- socket insulation pads
- removable caulk
- spray foam insulation
- professional quality aluminum duct tape
- window and door caulk
- door weather stripping
- attic door weather stripping
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