Quick Ways to Winterize Your Home

Finding and dealing with the energy wasters in your home will not only take the chill away during winter but save you money by shrinking heating and hydro bills.

To keep the heat in and the cold out, consider these simple measures:

Seal your attic. Since hot air rises, most heat loss occurs through your roof. Even if your attic is well insulated, it may not necessarily be well-sealed. Insulation is designed to slow down heat loss rather than stop airflow.

Begin by sealing the gaps that lead from your living areas to your attic. These gaps serve as escape routes for heated air. Some accommodate wiring and pipes, while others are the result of bad craftsmanship and/or the normal settling of a structure.

Here are some things you can do:

fill small gaps around chimney with rock wool or high-temperature caulk;
insulate and weatherstrip attic entry hatches;
caulk all gaps and holes used for wiring;
install recessed light fixtures that are air tight;
seal gaps where heating and other ductwork enters and exits the attic.
Weatherstrip windows and exterior doors. Most weatherstripping products last only a few years. Check windows, door frames and baseboards for escaping heat by holding a lit match by any gaps. If the flame moves or blows out, you have a draft problem.

The best seal should be on the inside so moisture will not enter and stay in the wall.
Use silicone caulking, but be sure to check the directions on the label to ensure you are getting the right type for the job.
Make sure all surfaces are clean and smooth.
Run a continuous bead of caulking (you may want to use a caulking gun) where the window trim meets the wall, then run another continuous bead between the trim and the window frame and where the trim meets the window sill.
If you don't have thermo windows or storms, you can apply a temporary thin plastic film over the window with a hair blower (kits can be purchased at building supply stores) to help stop drafts and prevent frost from building up over the winter. However, this should be done only as a temporary measure until windows can be replaced.

Exterior doors take a lot of punishment - slamming, changes in temperature and humidity. Any weatherstripping used must be sturdy to take this abuse, yet flexible enough to work through many temperature changes.
Start by checking the door itself and repairing any problems - loose structural joints or doorwindow panes, loose caulking, etc.
Look for weatherstripping with instructions. If you are removing worn or damaged weatherstripping, try to obtain a similar replacement set.
Most door weatherstripping is a combination of vinyl or metal edge seal and rubber/metal edge seal.

Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can cut your heating bills with every Celsius degree you lower the setting. If you have air conditioning, it also lowers your cooling bills. You can save up to five per cent of your heating costs for every Celsius degree you reduce the temperature in your home over a 24-hour period. But don't turn your thermostat below 14C to ensure your water pipes don't freeze and burst. With air conditioning, you save by turning your thermostat up - don't go below 24C.

Programmable thermostat units come in a range of prices and are available from hardware, building and heating equipment supply stores. Choose a model that is compatible with your particular heating/cooling system. If the whole thing seems too complicated, you can ask to have one professionally installed during your regular annual heating system check-up.

Check the fireplace. A lot of household heat escapes up your fireplace chimney, even when it is not in use. Check the flue damper to see it fits snugly and is closed when not in use. Consider installing tightfitting glass doors to control air flow.

Wrap your pipes. You can avoid burst pipes by wrapping foam tubing around them and taping it in place. Most tubing comes pre-slit for easy installation. Water pipe heat cables can also be purchased which can keep water flowing at temperatures as low as -40C. Cover exterior AC units. Use an appropriate cover or winterized plastic to protect your outdoor air conditioning for window fan unit to stop drafts and heat loss.

Check all exterior entry points. Use expandable polyurethane foam or other approved insulation products to cover the area around dryer vents, television cable jacks and other utility service entry points. But be careful not to overuse these products - a little goes a long way.

Work with the sun. While a home's south side gets the most sun in winter, sun from any direction can be a big asset. Open the drapes or curtains or pull up the blinds during the day to let in those warm rays, then close them at night to reduce heat loss through windows. In summer, you gain by doing the opposite.




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