How to Winterize Your Home
Winter can be harsh even on homes in warmer regions, like Florida. Not to mention, leaks in the attic or uninsulated pipes can lead to high energy bills that put a damper on the holiday season and your money-saving resolutions in the coming year.
Use these tips to prep your home for winter – your home and bank account will thank you!
1. Seal Attic Air Leaks
One of the top tasks on your fall home maintenance checklist is caulking your windows, but you don’t want to stop there. Air leaks in your attic can have a significant impact on how well your house retains heat. According to HouseLogic, up to 30% of a home’s heating and cooling is lost because of air leaks.
When looking for leaks, pay attention to gaps of all sizes, from those that are bigger than 1/4-inch, which require more than just caulking, to sealing small cracks around your chimney and flues.
Don’t forget to weatherstrip the attic access door. House Logic suggests caulking between the hatch frame and the rough opening or installing foam weatherstripping around the hatch opening.
2. Install a Smart Thermostat
Did you know that the average single-family home can save approximately 8% on their heating and cooling cost just by installing a programmable thermostat? A thermostat that can be programmed allows you to save money because you can:
- Pre-set times for turning the heater on and off. No more forgetting in the morning and then running the heat all day.
- Set heating zones around the house. Now you can heat only the areas you use most, rather than keeping that guest bedroom warm all winter long with no visitors.
The onset of winter is the perfect time to install a new thermostat. Check out PC Mag’s ranking of the best smart thermostats to find the right option for your home.
While you’re at it, set the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit for your most energy-efficient home. If you get cold at 68 degrees, plan on wearing socks and a sweater in the house. This helps keep you warm and in the cozy winter spirit. It also allows your home to not suck up too much energy while trying to heat it. This will do your part to help the environment too.
3. Wash All Your Blankets
Washing blankets every few months is a good seasonal habit to form, especially as colder months approach. You may not have used many of your heavy blankets yet, but all blankets – not just your comforter – easily collect bacteria, pet hair, allergens, and dirt particles. Give everything a good wash before it gets too cold, so you have fresh, clean blankets to start the winter.
This is especially important to do before holiday guests arrive. You don’t want to inadvertently pass along germs to your visitors!
Run the washer and dryer at specific times of the day to reduce your energy consumption. The best times of day are the early morning (before 7 a.m.) or late at night when there is lower energy consumption in the house. This will help you avoid any energy surges. During the winter, the highest electricity demand is between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., when people are heating their homes as they get ready for their day.
4. Insulate Your Pipes
As hot water flows through cold pipes, they cool the water and waste heat. To avoid this wasted warmth, insulate the pipes between the hot water heater and the wall, and the first three feet of cold water pipes after they enter the house.
This is easier to do than you might think. Perhaps the simplest method is to use snap-on insulating sleeves (think: pre-slit, hollow-core, flexible foam pipe insulation) at hardware stores. Just measure your pipes’ diameters before you shop.
The other big benefit to insulating pipes is that it can dramatically reduce your chances of filing an insurance claim. Insulation keeps your pipes from freezing, and that reduces the chances of them bursting and causing major water damage to your walls or floors.
5. Trim Back Trees and Branches
Even if you live in an area that doesn’t get snow, it’s still smart to trim trees and cut back branches that are too close to your power lines and house. All it takes is one storm for those branches to cause trouble.
Imagine, for example, what might happen if a branch from your tree fell on your roof. Or worse, what if it fell on your neighbor’s house? Fortunately, both situations are typically covered by your home insurance. However, your better option is to avoid problems altogether by keeping your trees healthy.
For more home maintenance tips, check out “7 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Roof.”
Editor's note: This article was originally published in November, 2019. It has updated for accuracy.
About the Author
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and business owner. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack, and more.