How to winterize your home
Getting your house ready for the winterNo matter where you live in the U.S., with the single exception of Hawaii, there's the possibility that you'll see temperatures below freezing this winter. And for most of us, it's more than a possibility. It's a guarantee. Knowing how to winterize your home can save you a bundle of cash in heating bills now and repair bills later.
Digital, programmable home heating thermostats can make a huge difference in how much you pay for heating this winter. They're easy to install and usually pretty easy to program. Program your digital thermostat to heat up a half hour before you wake up in the morning and to turn off 15 minutes before the last person leaves for school or work.
When no one is at home, program it to heat very low, such as around 55 degrees, and then have it heat up to the minimum temperature you can tolerate a half hour before you get home. Here's an additional tip. You can tolerate much colder temperatures in your home simply by leaving your shoes on. Program the thermostat to go five to ten degrees lower than your evening temperature while you're in bed overnight. It will follow your programming and start heating back up to the warmest setting the next morning a half hour before you wake so you'll be toasty warm getting out of bed in the morning.
Setting your thermostat this way will keep the temps tolerable when you're home and save money by dropping the temperature while you're not home. And because it's programmed in, you won't have to worry about forgetting to reset it all the time.
Make sure the insulation in your attic is sufficient. In snowy areas, a sure-fire indicator during the winter is icicles on the eaves of your home. If there are many icicles hanging from the roof of your home, that's a sign that the heat in your home is radiating out through the roof and melting the ice, which freezes again in the form of icicles once they leave the roof.
It may look pretty, but it means that a lot of your home's heat is escaping into the air rather than keeping you warm inside. Adequate insulation will completely eliminate this problem in the winter and will also keep the cool in during the summer months.
You can pay a company to come in and spray insulation into the attic, or any home improvement warehouse sells insulation sheeting that you can lay down yourself.
Doors and WindowsFirst of all, it's best to have double-paned windows if you can afford to. Whether you do or not, you still need to make sure no hot air is escaping from them. An easy way to tell that is to feel if cold air is coming in. Some people choose to tape visqueen around the windows. Adding this thin plastic sheeting can make a surprising difference.
You can also caulk around windows if there are any gaps at all where air might escape. Use a flexible caulk that won't crack when it gets cold.
Make sure all doors have fresh weatherstripping to keep hot air in and cold air out. Neither light nor air should be able to pass through at any point around the doors.
Other Things to Consider
Also make sure that any unpainted wood around doors or windows gets primed and painted. This will help keep warm air in as well.
Be sure that your gutters are clear of leaves. Water needs to be able to pass through easily and not freeze in the gutters. The weight could potentially rip them right off of the roof, but is more likely to loosen screws and encourage wood rot. Using leaf guards on your gutter that allow water in but keep debris out is a good idea.
Although we're talking about how to winterize your home, the car is a part of the home, so make sure you have ice melt, salt or sand for your driveways and keep an ice scraper/snow brush in your car.