Five summer projects to prep your home for winter
Learn about a few quick and easy summer projects that can help you get your house in tip-top-shape before winter rolls around again.
How to prepare your home for winter
Schools are out for the summer, and the winter coats are safely tucked away for the season, but those high heating bills are still in recent memory. Before they start up again, here are a few quick and easy summer projects that can help you get your house in tip-top-shape when winter rolls around again.
1. Seal windows and doors
Approximately 12% of a home's heat loss takes place around the windows and doors. Updating thresholds and weatherstripping can be the easiest way to make a major difference in the drafts you might feel on a chilly day inside your home. Some weatherstripping is only viable for a few years before it wears out and needs replacing; removal is simple, and new weatherstripping can be purchased from your local hardware store and installed in about 10 minutes. If you can see sunlight from underneath your external doors, then the door is not in contact with the threshold. Many thresholds are adjustable with a few screws; turn them counterclockwise until light from outside is no longer visible, but not so far that the door drags, this will only wear out the weatherstripping you just worked so hard on!
2. Find and fill holes
Fill holes in exterior walls while you're at it – you may not even know they are there, but any utility services added (like electrical wires, internet cables, gas lines, etc) may have gaps around them. Check these every summer, as the caulk that's often used to fill them will eventually peel or fall off. These holes can be filled with expanding foam, available for only a few dollars. A huge added benefit to sealing these holes will be the elimination of a perfect entry point for insects, mice or other household pests.
3. Insulate, insulate, insulate
Chances are, your home was not built with extreme efficiency in mind, and insulation can be added to specific areas to reduce heating costs. One extremely common place for heat to escape due to poor insulation is directly around and behind the electrical box. Remove the box's cover plate and fill any smaller holes or gaps around the box with caulk; larger holes can be filled with a foam sealant. Adding a foam gasket over outlets and switches can also help keep warm air in and cold air out. For basements, attics, and other common insulation weak points, an energy audit from a trained specialist can be an invaluable investment.
4. Make sure your ducts are in a row
Over the course of the warmer months, take a careful look at ductwork that runs through your basement or attic. Check for any separation at the seams or corners, or anywhere else that appears to be leaking or poorly connected. Metal tape or a mastic sealant can be used to patch a hole, sealing them up for the cold weather to come.
Does your home use baseboards for distributing heat? Take the time to remove the baseboard covers and carefully vacuum the baseboard fins using your vacuum cleaner's crevice tool. Be careful as to not damage the fins, which could reduce your baseboards' performance.
5. Beat the rush to your heating technician
Instead of waiting for the first chill of the winter before calling your contractor or heating technician for your yearly servicing and inspection, give them a call this summer instead. Chances are, their schedule is more flexible, and they may be able to offer you a better rate than if you wait until the busy season.
Is your heating system over 20 years old? Look into a high-efficiency upgrade – the one-time cost can dramatically increase your home's efficiency and reduce your heating costs next winter! Average home heating costs can be reduced by as much as 30% annually by switching from an outdated system to a gas-fired condensing boiler, like the Vitodens 100-W, Vitodens 200-W, or Vitodens 222-F.