Winter rarely waits for us to clean out the gutters, insulate the windows or seal out the drafts, especially if we have put these small but critical tasks off till the last moment. It is easy to get caught in the everyday hustle and postpone the home maintenance only to find yourself wishing you could turn back time when a leak makes its way into your living room or a heavy draft from your furnace ruins the holiday spirit. The sooner you schedule these small projects and start tackling them one by one, the better chance you stand of not being caught unprepared by the heavy snows. Even if you don’t live in an area where intense snowfall and sub-zero temperatures are the norm, you will benefit from taking some time to look after your home. A well winter-proofed house is not only warmer and more comfortable, but is also more energy-efficient, so you might end up saving a few hundred dollars this season as well. If this is the right motivation you have needed all along, let’s get started.
Fill the gaps on the outside of your house
Take a walk around the house to scout for possible cracks and gaps where the cold air can find its way into your home. Usually these are the places where your electricity outlets or piping are situated, as well as your chimneys and windows. You can buy cheap expansion foam for about $10 at your local hardware store or a caulk gun for about $15. Both of these are extremely easy to use and you don’t need to call on the handyman to help. Insulating your house properly on the outside will keep the cold air out effectively.
Install door sweeps
For about $5-10 you can purchase convenient door sweeps at the hardware store to attach to the bottom of your doors. Even if it seems like there is no gap to fill, usually this is the number one place (except perhaps your windows) where cold air creeps into the room. These come in standard sizes that you can easily adjust with scissors and are equipped with an adhesive strip for easy attachment. A simple door sweep makes an instant difference in the energy-efficiency of your home.
Insulate the windows
You don’t need to invest in costly window replacement, which may end up costing hundreds (if not thousands if you have more than 20 windows in your home) of dollars. A simple plastic-like window film that you can again purchase at the hardware store for no more than $20 (enough for all your windows) is the perfect temporary solution. The insulation film is easy to apply to your windows and just as easy to take off when you no longer need it in the warmer spring months.
Stop the drafts on the inside
It is sometimes difficult to detect the exact spot where the cold drafts come through. Sometimes even the tiniest gap or crack can make a difference in the room temperature, so you need to go on a little quest to find all these treacherous spots. An easy trick to apply is to pick a particularly windy day and light up an incense stick (a candle will also do the trick). Simply walk around the house, paying special attention to the most common places where there are possible cracks, such as the fireplace, the furnace, the windows and electrical outlets. If the smoke moves around, instead of rising straight up, you have a leak. Get your caulk gun or expansion foam and get to work once more.
Check the weather-strips on your sliding windows and doors
If your sliding door or window is not brand new, chances are the weather strips are worn off and don’t create the same effective vacuum effect that insulates your home. Weather strips run for about $15 at your local hardware store and come with a sticky lining that you can apply yourself. To test whether your weather strips actually need replacement, you can perform this little trick. Stick a banknote (a dollar bill will do) and shut the sliding door on it. If you are able to pull it out without troubles, that means that the weather strip is not doing its job properly and needs to be replaced. As you can see, there are a number of easy ways to ensure your home is as warm and comfortable as possible for the coming winter months. If the snow hasn’t arrived yet in your area, it is never too late to winter-proof your home with the suggested projects. Best of all, you can do all these yourself and spend about $50 that will end up saving you hundreds of dollars on your electricity bill.