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Winterizing your home may feel like a chore, but it’s easy, cheap and will surely make the winter go by as smoothly and comfortably as possible.
There are numerous ways to prepare your home for the colder months and they all fall into one of three categories: windows/doors, HVAC or insulation. Don’t let insulation or HVAC scare you, as I am going to share 13 easy winterizing projects any homeowner can accomplish.
Once December rolls around, you’ll be grateful you completed each one.
Windows & Doors
1. Install Storm Doors & Windows
When it comes to windows and doors, the best way to keep the cold air out of the home is to install storm windows and doors. In fact, installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45% after sealing drafts and reducing airflow.
Ventilating storm doors often offer an upper level of ventilation while keeping the aluminum or steel design on the bottom. This is useful when homeowners want more privacy, but don’t need a lot of ventilation. Models come with many options, like having the screen available at the top or bottom of the door. This is a great option for homes in cold climates where the screen can easily be removed in the winter and replaced in the spring. It also adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for intruders to gain access as opposed to a full-length screen storm door.
2. Install New Windows
Old windows may add to that vintage or traditional charm you always crave, but it certainly doesn’t keep the cold out of the home. In fact, old windows can be the No. 1 source of heat loss.
Bear in mind, new windows are not cheap, but the long-term energy and heat savings are sure to make up for that hefty investment.
3. Caulk Your Windows and Doors
Time to get to the cheaper projects. Fortunately, there are ways to winterize your home with your current windows and doors.
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Cold air tends to make its way through the windows and doors, giving your heating system a much tougher time to do its job. The best way to overcome those frosty breezes is by caulking your windows and doors.
When you’re caulking your windows and doors, be sure to always smooth out the lines with a wet finger. This will keep everything even, looking just as though a professional did it.
See How To Caulk Your Windows Like A Pro for a more detailed description of this easy DIY winterizing project.
4. Buy or Make Draft Stoppers for the Doors
So many homeowners are using draft stoppers nowadays as opposed to installing new doors. While it may not be as effective, they certainly do work. You can purchase draft stoppers (or snakes) at many local hardware stores or you can even create one yourself. Just roll up a bath towel and place it under your door or window.
On the other hand, you can turn this winterizing tactic into a fun activity for the kids. Just grab some old fabric, pillowcases or anything that can hold solid material and fill it with sand. It’s as if arts and crafts class just came home!
5. Add Plastic to Your Windows
If you really don’t want to get your hands dirty with caulk, you can always purchase window plastic. The plastic is basically invisible and any homeowner can install it. As long as you remove all the air bubbles, it will look as if a pro just left the house.
6. Replace Furnace Filters
No appliances are more relevant in the winter than your heating systems and furnaces. You must change those furnace filters often. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. If you have not already done so, head to your nearest home improvement store and stock up on filters. The earlier you do, the cheaper they will be.
7. Upgrade or Repair Your Furnace
Even if you regularly change the furnace filter, other problems can arise. As a result, you will more than likely have to repair the furnace or upgrade to a new one. According to our furnace repair cost estimator, the average price to repair a furnace is $258. However, know that this price can fluctuate quite a bit depending on your warranty. Keep in mind, the furnace's age, size and overall condition also factor into the repair cost.
On the other hand, you could also go for an upgrade and install an Energy Star model. They could save you up to 20% compared to new models or as much as 50% versus older models.
The average price to install a new furnace is $3,602.
8. Empty Your Pipes
Frozen pipes are never cheap to fix, but they are cheap to prevent. Draining the pipes ensures that nothing will freeze inside. Many pipes have manual valves you can open once you turn off your main water line. You may also need to open the waste valve to eliminate that extra water hanging around.
9. Monitor Thermostat
When the temperature really start to drop, you must leave your heating system on. This will help keep your pipes unfrozen, ensure a comfortable inside temperature and save money on HVAC repairs down the road. Nonetheless, homeowners must always monitor their thermostat to ensure you are not spending more than you need.
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your gas bill for every degree you decrease on the thermostat. Furthermore, ACEEE says that if you turn it down 10 degrees when you go to work and at night (for at least 16 hours a day), you can save about 14%.
10. Reverse Rotation of Ceiling Fans
Heat rises. In order to save energy and prevent the hot air from leaving your bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens, reverse the rotation of your ceiling fans to push the heat downwards. Ceiling fans should run clockwise in the winter. Many fans have a simple switch above the fan and others just use the cord hanging from the ceiling fan itself. As a result, all the hot air your furnace is generating will be gently pushed back down.
11. Boost Insulation
You may not be able to see it, but insulation is your biggest friend when it comes to winterizing your home. Adding new or extra insulation to you walls, attic, roof, ducts and pipes can make a huge difference in the overall temperature of your home.
As our insulation installation cost estimator dictates, the average price to install new insulation is $1,289. However, adding extra insulation or repairing old insulation is much cheaper.
12. Insulate Your Pipes
One easy way to add insulation yourself is by wrapping your pipes. This will undoubtedly decrease the chance of frozen pipes, but also save money on hot water.
A great way to see if your pipes need insulation is by checking its outside temperature. If they are very hot or cold, then add some insulation.
You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Try to buy materials with the highest R-value.
Other Winterizing Tactics
13. Build A Fire or Grab A Sweater
Then again, there are always simple changes that may not make the biggest difference, but they rarely come with a cost. Grab some extra firewood and make a fire in your living room. Not only will a properly maintained fireplace reduce your heating costs, but it also gives homeowners that homey and comfortable feel we all seek.
On the other, you could always take out a comfortable sweater as you lounge around binging on Netflix. Roughly speaking, a light long-sleeved sweater is worth about two degrees in added warmth, while a heavy sweater adds about four degrees.
As you can see, there are many ways to prepare your home for winter. Some may be more expensive than you thought, but others are cheap, easy and very DIY-friendly. Ensure a comfortable winter by accomplishing a few (if not all) of these winterizing projects.
Worried about expenses? See 5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Gas Bill During the Winter.