Old man winter is coming and it pays to be prepared. Here is a handy checklist to help you get your home ready for winter.
Check your attic insulation
When choosing proper insulation, be on the lookout for the ‘R-value’—the higher the R-value of your insulation, the more energy-efficient your insulation is. The recommended R value for your home varies from region to region, but it's typically R-13 to R-23 for exterior walls, while R-30, R-38 & R-49 are common for attic & ceiling spaces.
Check for air gaps & seal them
Hot air doesn’t only escape through the attic. If your home isn’t properly sealed, it could also leak out from other areas as well. Before winter begins, examine all fenestrations—windows or doors—& their surrounding areas for small cracks or gaps where exterior sunlight peeks through. Make sure to weatherstrip, or seal, any problem areas to combat against air transference or potential leaks. Hold a lit candle up to an area where you detect air transference, & pay attention to see if the flame moves or not; if it moves, it could be an indication that air leakage is occurring. Check behind your dryer & stove as well for air leaks. These are common spots for cracks or gaps to form, & weather-stripping or caulk are easy fixes to seal a problem area.
Inspect & clean your dryer vents
You should clean your dryer vents on a routine basis, but they should certainly be inspected & cleaned as part of the winterization process. As temperatures drop, we are using more blankets & heavier clothing, which will increase the usage of the dryer. If the dryer vent becomes clogged with lint, dust, & debris, this will negatively affect airflow & cause the dryer to work harder.
Test your smoke detectors
Your smoke detectors should be checked at least twice a year. & one of those times should occur before the winter season. During the cold winter months, we’re cranking up our heat & space heaters, celebrating the holidays with extra lights & decorations, & cooking for the family. One of the easiest & quickest steps to prepare for a stress-free season is to check your smoke detectors early on, replace their batteries, & make sure they’re working properly. (FYI - sometimes you can get free smoke detectors at your local fire dept.)
Replace your systems’ HVAC filter(s)
Another quick & easy winterization item to check off your list is replacing your HVAC filters. Before your furnace kicks into high gear, install a new HVAC filter so that airflow is not obstructed by any lint or dust build up & can run as efficiently as possible. This can keep you more comfortable & help to keep your bill down as well.
Insulate your pipes
A burst pipe can be a nightmare, spewing water all over the place, & can also lead to an expensive repair bill. It’s easy to add foam insulation around your pipes — especially those on your exterior walls — to ensure the water flowing through them does not freeze & allow pressure to build up.
Lay down rugs
The right rug can transform your space aesthetically, & it can serve another function as well: energy efficiency. A rug adds an extra layer of insulation to a room, traps cold air underneath, & creates a cozy resting place for your feet.
If it’s in the budget…Swap for energy efficient windows
Homes can have a lot of windows, & they tend to be the largest source of air infiltration. This is especially true of older windows—which are typically made of wood, with a single pane of glass—although some homes also have storm windows, which are an additional barrier that helps with energy costs. Upgrading to energy-efficient windows can keep heat inside during winter months. Oftentimes, [energy-efficient windows] are made of synthetic materials like vinyl, with two to three panes of glass & argon gas to boost energy efficiency.
If new windows aren’t in the budget...Install window treatments
If you like bare windows, you might want to reconsider your choices as we head into winter. When new windows aren’t an option, adding curtains or drapes will help to preserve heat. Keep them open during the day to allow sunlight to heat your rooms. Close the curtains at night so your home retains its warmth. The thicker the curtain, the more insulation it’s providing.
Clean your gutters
Gutters are important for diverting water away from your home so it doesn’t collect & leak inside. Clean out leaves, sticks, & other debris that has accumulated over summer & fall.
Drain & shut off water sources
Check all of your exterior water sources. Winterize outdoor irrigation systems, drain & shut off outdoor water sources, & disconnect & store garden hoses to prevent freezing & damage. Proper draining & shutting off of outdoor water sources will reduce the risk of pipes bursting when temperatures drop to freezing levels. In addition, if you drain & store your hoses away, he says this will ensure they last as long as they should & remain functional.
Insulate your garage door(s)
You should consider insulating your garage door. It can help you save on electricity & gas bills, especially if your garage is attached to your home. An insulated garage provides the added benefit of creating extra space for a potential home gym or office.
Winterize air conditioning unit(s)
Remove & store window AC units & store them in a dry location. Window units do not have tight seals around them, & when cold weather arrives, it can come in around the window unit & side flaps, quickly cooling a room & making it hard to maintain a warm temperature.
Check your roof/chimney
You may want a full roof inspection, including checking the age of your roof, if materials are compromised or outdated—like curling or buckling shingles—& identifying any roof stains. But it’s not just roof shingles that you should consider. The roof system itself should be in good shape. A proper roof system should include things like ice & water shields, drip edges, ridge & intake vents, & a vapor barrier that is breathable—not felt paper. In addition, get professionals to inspect chimneys for any compromised masonry or areas that need to be repointed.
Stock up on the right tools & materials
Make sure you have everything that you need to carry you through the winter. Consider stocking on the items you need now, so you won't be met with long lines & empty shelves. This includes taking stock of shovels, de-icing salt for steps & driveways, snow roof rakes, ice scrapers, soft bristle brushes & more.