How to Winterize Your Home

Written by Brandon Garrett

Previously, we talked about what you could do to prepare for a power outage during the winter. But how can do you winterize your home to be ready for the snow and cold weather?

Here are a few points to consider as the winter weather descends upon us. Check out these points and then add your insights below. Your tips could save people money and time as they prepare.

Reverse the fan
One thing that most people don’t think about is reversing the ceiling fan. Hot air rises and you’ll want to make sure that the warm air that is collecting around your ceiling is being pushed back down into the room to heat everyone.

Cold HouseClean the gutters
The last thing you’ll want to do in the middle of the winter is climb up on your frozen roof on a cold ladder and take out soggy and frozen leaves from your gutters. Cleaning your gutters allows cold water to quickly get off your roof and not collect.

Insulate
Besides making sure that your house is well insulated, make sure that there aren’t any large cracks or leaks in your home. Those cracks can let hot air out and drain your heating bill.

You’ll also want to make sure that the seal around your windows and doors is tight. Many people even consider putting bubble wrap or other clear plastics around their window during the winter to allow light to come in and cold air out. You can even sew your own door draft stopper.

Planting a windbreakers
This probably isn’t something that you can do quickly or easily but you should consider planting evergreen trees close to your home. This keeps a buffer of tree between your house and the cold wind outside. The evergreen trees will also force cold winds up and around your house.

Programmable gadgets
One new trend is consumers who are installing timers on their heating systems or water heaters in order to only run during certain times of the day. This allows you to only heat when you need it – saving you money!

Shut the door
Many times it’s just more efficient not to heat a room. If there is a storage room that you aren’t using – just close the vent and the door. That allows you to focus your heating on the rooms that you use on a regular basis. You’ll have to make sure that without the vents open the room doesn’t get too cold that you have a busted pipe.

Use your large appliances
When it gets cold outside, clean the house. The heat that the washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven and other appliances put off will heat your home when it’s cold. That means  you’ll want to make sure that your appliances are in working order.

Make sure you have an auto emergency kit
While you’re out and about during the winter time, make sure that you have the proper equipment in your car. That means having jumper cables, food, water and other items that will be necessary if your car breaks down in a winter storm.

Your advice?
So, what do you do? Comment below to tell others how you prepare your home and family for the winter season. How do you winterize?

Updated December 15, 2012

14 Comments

  1. Chuck wrote:

    Thanks for the info, with utility prices climbing it’s nice to have a reminder to check the simple things that can drive up your bill.

    We use our electric dryer to heat a utility room in our house, I put a Y in the vent hose that allows me to redirect the airflow in to the large room in the winter. You can NOT do this with a gas dryer (fumes) but it works great with an electric.

    There are lots of easy and creative was to keep the house warm for less, the end result is lower bills and that’s a good thing.

    Chuck

    December 17th, 2012 at 7:31 am
  2. jeannieC wrote:

    When I was still living in my small house (900 sq feet) I had a propane cook stove. I set the oven on 200, let it heat, and opened the oven door the least amount possible for it to stay open, but not fall all the way open. About 3″ or so, I’d guess. Then I reversed the ceiling fan in the living room. Also had a floor fan in the kitchen that I pointed at the ceiling and put on low setting. Within 30 min the entire house was warm – used VERY little propane. I used 250 gal over 2 winters.

    December 17th, 2012 at 9:31 am
  3. Judy wrote:

    Ace Hardware has an indoor dryer vent kit that you can connect your dryer vent hose into to vent the hot dryer air into the house. It has a lint trap that you put water in that not only traps the lint but humidifies the dry winter air. This is the third winter I have used it and have good success.

    December 17th, 2012 at 11:01 am
  4. Grizz wrote:

    Neither of the above ideas are safe.Driers are designed to be exhausted outside the confines of the home(both electric and gas fired)And using your oven for heat will wind you up in the hospital ,if you’re lucky!Ever hear of carbon monoxide?

    December 17th, 2012 at 12:48 pm
  5. chris wrote:

    check all windows for drafts and add plastic over windows i also run 2 water heaters 1 just a holding tank to let water get up to room temp and the other to do the heating i also use a ventless fireplace with the fenace fan running 24 hrs to serculate the heat. i have found leaving fernace on timer it takes as much if not more energy reheating your house back up to proper temp. i am now looking into solor window heating testing difrent typs looking for max. heat

    December 17th, 2012 at 4:55 pm
  6. Highvoltagegirl wrote:

    I cover my windows with thick heavy curtains, it does keep the light out but really helps keep the cold out also. We do vent the dryer in the house it is electric and use a knee high nylon or stocking over the end to catch lint, you just have to change it as needed.. I would never do this with a gas dryer though. I keep the heat at 60 during the day and 62-64 at night. I also have oil heat, and radiators I set large decorative glass mason jars filled with red and green water (for Christmas) that warm up when furnace is on then they radiate heat after the furnace is off and they keep the house from getting to dry.

    December 17th, 2012 at 9:03 pm
  7. Chuck wrote:

    The dryer idea is fine if it’s an electric model, if it’s a gas dryer then Grizz is right – it MUST be exhausted outside of the house. If you have an electric dryer why not use that excess hot air instead of letting it go to waste.

    Chuck

    December 18th, 2012 at 6:31 am
  8. Constitutionchic wrote:

    We wrap our screens in plastic and pop back in. It creates a 3′ dead space. First year after doing this, we estimated that it saves us 30 to 50% on heating (plus we do all of the other stuff listed.)

    December 18th, 2012 at 5:25 pm
  9. Anita wrote:

    I use a small hygrometer to measure humidity in the air. Cost about $13.00 at Lowes.You’re looking to keep humidity at a constant 50 % in order to be the most comfortable. Hygrometer is the size of a cell phone and can be propped up on a counter.During the winter if it goes below 50% I start up several humidifiers.If that doesn’t bring it up to 50% I add a simmering pot of water on the stove.During the summer I use a dehumidifier to remove moisture and keep it at 50% humidity.

    December 18th, 2012 at 7:54 pm
  10. Surviving Disaster wrote:

    The evergreen advice is so true. I would try to plant them a bit higher up though as low lying areas that flood will give you a better chance of blowing over from the roots.

    December 19th, 2012 at 6:44 am
  11. sps wrote:

    My only concern with venting an electric dryer indoors would be the excess moisture that could lead to excess condensation and ultimately mold and mildew. Some ways to save on utilities cost would be to seal the many air leaks. i.e. sealing any penetrations between the living space and attic where warm air escapes. Seal the rim joist in the basement with spray foam and or rigid insulation. Caulk around window casings,add weather strip to windows and doors. Basically eliminate the drafts.

    December 20th, 2012 at 7:52 am
  12. Teresa wrote:

    We have a fir tree for Christmas, or spruce. I dont know many people in my area that use actual pine trees.Are there any medicinal uses for that sap or bark or needles?

    December 27th, 2012 at 5:46 pm
  13. Diana wrote:

    An oven can be safely used to add some heat to at least one room if not the whole house, but not quite as JeannieC is advising. You set the oven at 350 to 400F and put only the smallest crack in the oven door at the top (3″ is too much to be safe–I crack it with the handle of a wooden spoon, less than half an inch, just enough to let a bit of hot air escape upward). What you want is for the oven to reach and maintain the set temperature so that it continues cycling on and off regularly. It is then no more dangerous than baking several batches of bread or making a large roast would be. I have used the oven for emergency heat that way when building heat went out many times, and my carbon monoxide alarm in the same room has never peeped.)

    October 28th, 2013 at 10:18 am
  14. Gloria wrote:

    Use bubble wrap on your window for insulation.

    January 3rd, 2014 at 1:18 am

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