Summer is fading into a memory now. The longs days of swimming, hiking and riding bikes will be replaced by skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. But before you head out to enjoy the snow, take some time and get your home ready for the cold weather ahead.
Here are some tips from my favorite home repair and DIY guru, Bob Vila
Windows and Doors
- Check all the weather-stripping around windows and door frames for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weather-stripping, if necessary.
- Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
- Replace all window screens with storm windows.
- Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
- Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
- Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
- Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
- Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
- Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
- Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
- Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
- Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
- If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
- Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
- Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
- Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
- Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.
Gutters, Roof, and Drains
- Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
- Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
- Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
- Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
- Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
- Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
Energy Audits Directory
Get a plan to help improve your home’s efficiency and comfort. Our online audit tools are free, and our in-home audits deliver valuable expertise at substantial discounts. Because public utilities, like Xcel Energy, are regulated on a state level, we can’t always offer the same programs and services across different states. Unfortunately in-home audits are not available in Michigan and South Dakota at this time.