7 Great Ways to Winterize Your Home

It begins with that mysterious draft you feel when you’re in the kitchen making coffee in the morning. And then one evening, you find yourself huddled on your couch, piling on blankets, and wondering what is wrong with the thermostat as you stare helplessly at your unused fireplace. Yes, it’s almost winter time! And if you were responsible, you would have winterized your home in preparation for the oncoming several months of bitterly cold weather. Then again, maybe it’s not too late. Take a look at these seven great ways to winterize your home, and get cracking before you feel an icy draft coming from under your front door.

  1. Buy or make a draft snake:

    A draft snake is just a cute name for a draft stopper that you place under a drafty door. A rolled-up bath towel will do the trick, but for some fun, why not try making one yourself? Create a length-wise soft tube out of any kind of fabric, and fill it up with sand or kitty litter. Drafts coming in from under your door can waste 5% to 30% of the energy you’re using to stay warm.

  2. Replace or clean furnace filters:

    A dirty filter, be it in a furnace or behind a vent in a home with central heat, will restrict air flow, waste energy, and put particles into the air that can aggravate your allergies. Change or clean your filters once a month, especially since you’ll be running the heater a lot in cold weather. HEPA filters are your best bet, since they are made according to Department of Energy standards and when used remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles.

  3. Install storm doors and windows:

    Installing a storm door or storm windows on your own might not be easy, but doing so will reduce drafts and unnecessary air flow and increase the efficiency of your energy use by 45%. Look for Energy Star-certified products when shopping for a storm door or window, and check to see if you qualify for a federal tax credit once they’re installed.

  4. Upgrade to a new furnace:

    This is something homeowners should consider if their furnace is ten or more years old or seems to be running inefficiently. Upgrading from an old to a new, energy-efficient furnace will save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if you live in a part of the country that experiences truly cold weather. Again, look for an Energy Star-certified furnace, since buying one will save you up to 20% compared to other new models.

  5. Clean and prepare your chimney:

    We described a scenario where you looked at your chimney, and wondered what you might need to do before you can safely enjoy fire in your fireplace. Before it gets too cold, contact a certified chimney sweep to professionally clean your chimney and remove any bird nests that may have been built inside. Be sure your fireplace damper is working properly, as well as the cap at the top of your chimney which keeps out rodents and birds.

  6. Insulate your pipes:

    Frozen pipes can cause an incredible amount of damage to your home. Insulating your pipes will help prevent them from freezing, and will save you money on your hot water bills. Most hardware stores sell pre-slit foam that you can cut to size and secure with duct tape around your pipes. Some states offer such weatherization improvements to low-income households. If you are in that category, contact your local utility company or department of housing to see if they have such a program in place.

  7. Bundle up:

    If you ever attended a public school where you had to wear a winter jacket while in the classroom, this suggestion may seem a bit crass. But then again, when it’s below zero outside, which is more common in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and Detroit, how many of us can afford to heat our house to the point where we can run around in our skivvies? This is your chance to wear that lumpy, scratchy sweater your grandma knitted for you as a Christmas present. Layer up, and enjoy what can be about 4 degrees of additional warmth.

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