Winterizing Your Home
Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
Homes perform differently in the different seasons, so it is important to make
sure yours is ready for the strains of its next few months. In winter, this
means sealing leaks, turning down temperatures, and cleaning chimneys, furnaces,
and gutters to keep your home working properly. Simple small maintenance tasks
can help save energy throughout the cold season, especially when it comes to
heating your home.
The following are a variety of the different measures you can take to winterize
Clean your gutters.
This will help rain and snow drain properly and prevent water damage to your
roof and walls.
Block air leaks.
Drafts can account for 5-30% of your home's energy use. Block spaces around
windows and in your basement and attic using
caulking or weather
For bigger gaps under doors, consider purchasing or making a
These are long thin tubes covered with fabric to help block air from
entering and exiting the home under exterior doors and windows. Consider
home energy audit
done on your home using a blower door test to help detect leaks. For more
information, visit our topic page on
Sealing the Existing Home.
Insulate your home.
Insulation is one of the best ways to prevent heat loss and keep your energy
bills down. Make sure your insulation is in good condition by contacting a
local contractor. Insulate your walls and attic with high quality
insulation to keep warm air from leaking out hidden places. To find out how
much insulation you need, consult
Johns Manville's Insulation Calculator.
Check to make sure your furnace is in good, working condition.
Replace the filter and clean the furnace to make sure it can function
properly. Have a professional check to see that the burner is working
properly and that there are no leaks in the exhaust system.
Check duct work for leaks.
Properly sealed ductwork can help prevent air leakage that causes heat
loss. If you find a leak, seal it properly before winter sets in. For more
information, including a do-it-yourself guide, visit Energy Star's page on
Winterize your windows.
Consider installing storm windows and screens or replacing old ones with new
For a more inexpensive option, purchase a window insulating kit from your
local home improvement store. These include layers of plastic film or
sheeting that are attached to windows using double-sided tape and shrunk
using a blow-dryer to seal the window.
for a video demonstrating how to install a window insulation kit.
Clean your chimney.
Clear out old ash and wood pieces yourself using a shovel, small broom, and
bucket. Consider hiring a chimney sweep to make sure your chimney is in
good working condition for wintertime fires.
Reverse the direction of your fans. In the summer, fan blades should
rotate downward (counterclockwise if looking up at it) to help create a
breeze throughout the room. In the winter, reversing the fan's direction
will help force the warm air from the top of a room down into the living
Insulate your pipes and water heater. Wrapping your pipes and
heater with an insulating blanket will help keep your water hot and avoid
reheating. You can purchase heater blankets at your local home improvement
store and in most cases, are easily installed yourself.
Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees. Most water
heaters are set to 140 degrees by default. By turning the temperature down
by 20 degrees, you can save a significant amount of money and energy on your
monthly heating bills.
Turn your thermostat down by 4 degrees or so and put on a sweater.
Keeping your home's temperature at or around 68 degrees will help avoid
excess heating costs. Turn the temperature down a few more degrees while
sleeping or out of the house can help minimize costs as well. Instead of
turning the heat up, consider putting on a sweater and socks to warm your
body without using energy. Consider installing a
to automatically regulate your home's temperature based on your schedule.
Shut the doors to rooms you don't use. If you have extra guest
rooms or storage rooms that you do not actively use, close their doors to
avoid heating empty spaces. Open them a little while before you plan on
using them to warm them up again.
Close your curtains and blinds. This can help keep the warm air in
and the cold air out, especially on the frostier days. Open them if it
warms up and the sun is shining to help heat your home using the
but keep them closed when temperature drops for maximum energy efficiency.
Make sure you have alternative heating fuels and plenty of wood on hand.
This is especially true in cold climates where winter storms could
potentially cut off regular heat sources. Kerosene heaters work as a great
alternative in emergencies, but they can be dangerous. Follow all
directions and warnings when using to minimize hazards. Make sure your
fireplace or wood burning stove is accessible in case you need it.
Estimated Cost Savings:
Prepping your home for the cold seasons can help lower your heating bills and
keep your home comfortable, even as temperatures drop. Many winterization steps
have small upfront costs, but these are typically minimal ($10-$20) and if done
properly, they can provide a return on investment within the winter months.
Federal tax credits are available from the IRS for certain winterization
for more information and to find out how to claim your credits.
While it is a good idea to winterize your home regardless of where you live, it
is especially important in regions with colder climates. These areas typically
have harsher winds, lower temperatures, and more adverse weather conditions that
can cause more issues than in milder regions.
Installation (Getting It Done):
It is best to begin winterizing your home in early fall (around Labor Day).
Most steps can be done yourself with little or no cost, but a few require the
help of certified professionals. Ask the experts at your local home improvement
store for tips and advice on do-it-yourself projects as needed.
Videos on This Topic:
How to Winterize
Your Home for Comfort and Energy Efficiency
(3:19) - Contractor Lou Manfredini walks us through several steps to
winterization. Listen as he explains how to clean your furnace, replace your
windows with energy-efficient models, adding insulation, and getting a home
energy audit to find leaks within your home.
(2:56) - CBS - Home expert Danny Lipford gives advice on how to winterize your
home, including cleaning gutters, sealing gaps and leaks, and preparing your
outdoor plants early for better springtime growth.
for Your Home
(4:22) - DIY Network - In this video from the Home Maintenance series hosted by
Tim Hockenberry, find out how to seal your windows to help prepare your home for
the winter season.
More Information on This Topic:
MSN Real Estate - Winterizing Your Home
The Daily Green - Winterizing Home Tips
CBS News - Winterizing Your Home
Planet Green - 35 Tips for Winterizing Your Home
IRS - Expanded Recovery Act Tax Credits Help Homeowners Winterize their Homes,
Jefferson County Emergency Preparedness Guide