50 Ways to Winterize Your Home

As we enter the cold part of the year in the Northern hemisphere, here are 50 tips for how to winterize your home.  If you have a suggestion that isn’t in the list be sure to add it in the comments.

winter-main

  1. Replace any old or inefficient windows. Windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your house.
  2. Seal off drafty windows and patio doors with clear plastic.
  3. If you have a lot of outside doors that leak air, you can seal a few off using plastic or caulk putty.
  4. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, there’s a good chance that it wastes a lot of fuel. Consider upgrading to a newer one.
  5. Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F).
  6. Consider “blanketing” your water heater with faced fiberglass insulation. (Do not do this if you have a gas-powered water heater)
  7. Wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house. Also, you can insulate cold water pipes to help prevent them from freezing during the winter.
  8. Replace your furnace filter about every 3 months.
  9. Make sure your cold air returns aren’t blocked.  Your furnace needs these to operate efficiently.
  10. Try replacing the weather stripping around the doors in your home.
  11. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs when no one is at home.
  12. Uncover all south-facing windows to let all possible sunlight in your home.
  13. Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean.
  14. If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  15. If the damper is old or doesn’t close well, try putting some insulation in it to seal it off. Just remember to take it out before using it!
  16. If you like using a fireplace, consider getting an insert that will direct the heat into your house instead of just sending it up the chimney.
  17. Consider replacing all of your lightbulbs with energy-saving CFL bulbs.
  18. Install a timer on your water heater so it isn’t heating a whole tank of water when you don’t need it.
  19. Install foam insulators behind the face plates of light switches and electrical outlets.
  20. Check the insulation in the walls of your home. It might need some work in order to keep heat in efficiently.
  21. Plant evergreen trees close to your home to block the winter wind.
  22. Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to push hot air downward and delay it from escaping the house.
  23. Consider hanging thermal curtains to help prevent drafts.
  24. Install a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from traveling back into your home.
  25. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity. (Don’t try this if you have a gas-powered dryer).
  26. Check windows for leaks. Windows with wooden frames often warp and become inefficient.
  27. Caulk both sides of the trim around your windows.  This is an area where a lot of air can get in.
  28. Try not to use space heaters to heat large areas of your house.
  29. If you spend most of your time in one room in a large house, consider setting your thermostat low and using a small heater to heat where you are going to be.
  30. Remove any window-unit air conditioners.
  31. Keep all closet doors closed when possible. There’s no need to heat space that isn’t in use as long as it doesn’t contain water pipes.
  32. Make sure that your garage isn’t too drafty.
  33. Try to use the clothes dryer for consecutive loads of laundry. This conserves the energy that would be needed to heat up the dryer several times.
  34. Replace the caulking around any bathtubs or showers.
  35. If your home has folding attic stairs, consider insulating the door with a cover of some sort.
  36. If your home has a sliding glass door, check the seal on the bottom to make sure it isn’t letting in cold air.
  37. If your water heater needs to be upgraded, consider installing a tankless water heater.
  38. Use the oven for baking during colder hours of the day to help heat your home.
  39. Install storm doors to help keep out drafts.
  40. Use an energy monitor to tell you what appliances are using the most energy. This might help pinpoint areas where you can cut back on energy usage.
  41. Make sure that your duct system is working properly.
  42. Look into installing a geothermal heating system. While it is a bit expensive, initially, the energy savings provide a long-term cost benefit.
  43. Dress warmly when you are inside so that you won’t be tempted to raise the temperature on the thermostat.
  44. Make sure that there aren’t any drafts coming in under doors. If there are, consider using a rubber strip to seal them off.
  45. If you own a brick home, check the mortar. It may need repair.
  46. Replace worn or missing shingles.
  47. Seal any cracks in the foundation of your house.
  48. Wear socks and slippers.  If your feet are warm, you will feel warmer and can keep the thermostat set low.
  49. Install a programmable Energy Star thermostat that will lower the temperature at night and when no one is at home.
  50. Close off rooms that aren’t used and shut the vents.

So how do you winterize your house?  Any winterization tips are welcome in the comments.

Comments

  1. peter says

    These are bad / dangerous tips:

    > 21. Plant evergreen trees close to your home to block the winter wind.

    Do not plant trees within 30 feet of your house. You risk damage from falling limbs and uplifting roots. Needles will shed ALL YEAR ROUND, you will find yourself sweeping the needles from your roof and gutters SEVERAL times each year.

    > 25. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity.

    Do not attempt if you have gas dryer, you risk death from CO poisoning. Venting dryer into house may make your house too humid, promoting growth of mold. Lint from dryer puts excessive dust into your house.

    • Eric says

      Don’t reply with false information…

      “> 21. Plant evergreen trees close to your home to block the winter wind.

      Do not plant trees within 30 feet of your house. You risk damage from falling limbs and uplifting roots. Needles will shed ALL YEAR ROUND, you will find yourself sweeping the needles from your roof and gutters SEVERAL times each year.”

      That is only true if you plant the massive varieties of evergreens, evergreens come in all types with different sizes they range from 5′ to 30’+. On a ranch 8′ pine trees would suffice.

      “> 25. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity.

      Do not attempt if you have gas dryer, you risk death from CO poisoning. Venting dryer into house may make your house too humid, promoting growth of mold. Lint from dryer puts excessive dust into your house.”

      They make kits for electric dryers you can buy at the store, AND the author clearly noted that it is not intended for a gas dryer.

      Although on another note I always see tips that state to turn your hot water heater down to the warm setting giving it a max temp. of 120°, NEVER a good idea whether you have a dishwasher or wash dishes by hand you want a minimum of 140° for dishwashing temps, ideally 165° for sterilization reasons. I prefer to risk a little bit of wasted energy than risk my health.

      • eric says

        In regard to:

        “Although on another note I always see tips that state to turn your hot water heater down to the warm setting giving it a max temp. of 120°, NEVER a good idea whether you have a dishwasher or wash dishes by hand you want a minimum of 140° for dishwashing temps, ideally 165° for sterilization reasons. I prefer to risk a little bit of wasted energy than risk my health.”

        You are going to have to waste a lot of energy to actually achieve an effective kill of microorganisms. And if you wash dishes by hand you are going to need a long time to wash them to achieve an effective kill of any that may be present. Molds require 30 minutes at 140 degrees F., their spores up to 176 degrees F for 15 minutes. Others mold spores are killed within a range of 30 minutes at 140 F to more than an hour at 162 F. Yeasts can be killed in 5 minutes at 122 to 140 F. Salmonella bacteria require @ 90 minutes exposure at 140 degrees to reduce them to a non-detectable level. Staphylococci bacteria require 30 minutes exposure at 149 degrees. For true sterilization you need to use steam, not water, and then need to have an exposure period of at least 5 minutes for saturated steam at a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That will kill the botulism bug.

        Dishwashing requires a temperature of 160 -165 for the washing then a temperature of 180 -190 F for the rinse cycle. And don’t forget that the dishes should be air dried, stored in a clean location, and handled correctly (not touching the surface to be used, such as the inside of drinking glasses) with clean hands before using them again, or all that energy truly was wasted.

        If you do use a dishwasher to wash dishes you could always take the extra step and plan ahead and turn your water heater up when you are going to do the dishes. I don’t have one but that’s what I do when showering and I’ve cut my water heater energy use in half judging from gas use during the summer months. Plus bacteria can develop heat resistance if not taken to the proper temperature for the correct length of time to achieve an adequate kill. Maintaining a lower temperature could prevent this heat resistance from developing in your water supply system.

        Using a detergent, in a water solution involving the biocide chlorine, at a moderate temperature will do a fine job in protecting your health while saving energy in the process. The only reason that heat is used in washing dishes is to decrease the time it takes to separate dirt from what needs to be washed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to boil your clothes to get them clean.

  2. Alison says

    get ahead of ice damns on your roof. The best way to do this is to have your attic properly vented (also insulate the floor of your attic so that cold air doesn’t leak into the top floor of your house). If your attic space is too much warmer than the air outside, it causes the snow to melt and run off the roof. the eaves however are not warmer and the snow-melt then freezes at the edge of your roof and continues to build throughout the winter. This can create serious problems such as roof leaks and even partial collapse if your area get heavy snow fall.

    If you don’t have the time or funds to do this (it can be a little costly) follow these steps:

    -clean your gutters. This keeps to run-off moving quickly off your roof.

    -install roof heating cables to the edge of your roof in a zig-zag going up to the spot where the eaves meet the roof. This keeps the edge of your roof warm so no ice can form.

    – If you see ice starting to accumulate take several nylon stockings (put a few inside each other for added strength) fill them with the ice melt you use on your sidewalks (do not use potassium-chloride based salt, it can damage your shingles) tie a rope to the end (so you can put them back down in the spring). Throw the “salt snake” up onto the edge of the roof so it hangs over the edge slightly. This will create a clear path for the water to run off the roof.

  3. L says

    Turning your thermostat below 75 can make you sick in the winter. My kids, bf and I stay sick if the thermostat is below 75. Also the electric company and the family doctor have both said that keeping it below 75 is not good during the winter because the setting is too low and can cause you to get sick. I have a room with four big windows in it that I am about to put plastic covering over to keep the winter draft out that is currently coming in and making the room very cold. There are very few good tips in here but most of them are horrible, dangerous and can actually make you sick.

    • Mariya mwaniki says

      bacteria and virus make you sick, not temps. Who could hand wash dishes in140 degree water? A human would be burned. My dishwasher has a water heat booster. Also I had an indoor dryer vent in my last house, it was great because the inside gets so dry in the winter, esp if you have electric heat

    • Wendy says

      It stands to reason that bacteria breeds in warmth, so when we started caring for medically fragile children, we kept our home at 70 during the day and 68 at night. We had a very low incidence of routine illness such as colds and flus. We were all comfortable and more alert, slept better and were more active. This was not done to save energy, it was to save lives-and it did just that.

      • Kimberly says

        We keep our gas at 70. Any higher and we can’t breathe. Me and two if our children have asthma and the cooler air helps use breathe. We have a large house that has huge rooms and it stays on the cool side but nothing that would make us sick. Cool air doesn’t make you sick, germs do.

  4. eric says

    Insulate your heating ducts. When doing this first wrap the joints to seal them with aluminum foil, not duct tape. Duct tape is not recommended when seal duct work. Then insulate them with duct insulation. This will get the heat to where it needs to go in the winter and in the summer will help to keep any air conditioned air cool until it gets to the interior of the home. The temperature of the air after it leaves the air conditioner is around 44 – 48 degrees, so having the air ducts sealed will help conserve energy in the summer months also.

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