Winterizing Your Home Checklist: How to Winterize Your Home
One of the biggest challenges Canadians face is the long winter season. Winters in Canada can be harsh, especially in the Edmonton area. Many homeowners – new ones especially – don’t realize there are certain steps they should be taking to prepare for the colder months ahead. It’s very important to winterize your home.
But there’s no need to worry! The steps you should take are fairly simple, and they can potentially save you a lot of time and money when it comes to maintenance and repairs in the future.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to prepare your new home for the winter.
Draft-Proof Your Home
Drafts are when cold air from outside seeps into your home. You’ll typically find them around windows or doors, but you might also find a draft coming from around an electrical outlet, near chimneys, or the entrance to the attic or basement.
Drafts can be a big problem because anywhere from 5-30% of a home’s energy is lost as a result of drafts. This means you’re paying more than you need to on your gas and electric bill.
You can search your home for drafts using a candle. Walk around the home carrying this, stopping at places where there’s likely to be a draft. If the flame or smoke moves, you likely have a leak.
Window drafts are often sealed up using a foam cushion you can easily purchase at any home goods store or with a shrink-wrap plastic overlay. Drafts around the doors can usually be helped with a similar foam cushion or even a blanket placed at the bottom of the door to block the wind.
Draft-proofing your home serves a double purpose: it keeps your home warmer and it saves you money on your heating bills.
Make Sure to Turn Off Your Exterior Faucets
Your home has at least one exterior faucet where you hook up the hose. You may have more than one faucet, or you may have a sprinkler system. Before winter sets in, you need to turn the water to these faucets off. You also want to make sure to drain any water that’s in the sprinkler system or hose. If you don’t do this, the water inside will expand as the temperature drops, and since water expands when it freezes, it could cause the pipes to burst. This will result in costly repairs down the line.
An extra step you can take here would be to put an insulating cover over the faucet. This can further prevent freezing and may also block any drafts from coming into your home.
Clean and Clear Your Gutters
The gutters divert water away from your home, and they’re essential for preventing water damage. During the fall season, leaves can build up in the gutters and cause blockages. When this happens, the water pools and starts to seep into the roof, causing damage.
In the winter, it’s even more damaging. These water blockages freeze, which is the cause of ice dams. Ice dams can get so heavy they pull the gutters off of the home. Sure, icicles look pretty, but they’re bad news.
If you want some added protection, consider adding gutter guards. These are mesh covers that go on the tops of your gutters. They allow water to flow through but will prevent leaves and other gunk from getting into your gutters.
Check On Your Insulation
Your home should have insulation in the walls and in the attic. This prevents airflow from outside, and it helps keep the home warm. Additionally, the insulation in the attic should help keep the roof cool, which will help prevent icicles.
Brand-new homes will have sufficient insulation, but older homes may need more added. Look at the R-value of the insulation material. For Canada’s cold winters, you’re going to want insulation with an R-value between R-49 and R-60.
There are different types of insulation, and many you can install yourself. Your local home improvement store can give you advice. You can also call in a professional and have them take care of everything if it’s within your budget.
Change Your Furnace Filters
The furnace is what keeps your home warm in the winter, so you need to make sure that it’s in top condition before it gets cold! The worst thing that could happen is for it to break down in the middle of the night when the temperatures are below zero.
Like most Canadians, you probably turn the furnace off for the summer. So, start by turning the heater on to make sure it’s blowing hot air! If not, call a repair person and get your appointment booked ASAP.
Then you’ll want to change the filters. Ideally, you should change the filters every 1-3 months, depending on your lifestyle. However, it’s especially important to do this in the winter months. New filters are available at many locations, like home improvement stores and Costco. You can also find them online and have them shipped right to your house.
Changing the furnace filter has quite a few benefits. First, it can help protect you against harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide (Install a carbon monoxide detector just to be safe!). It also makes the furnace run more efficiently, which means it will save you money on heating costs.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
For every degree you lower the temperature in your home over winter, you’ll save between 1-5% on your heating bill. Leaving the heater running when you’re not home is a big energy waster, costing you more money.
You can alleviate this problem by installing a programmable thermostat. This allows you to set the temperature for different times. For instance, if you always leave the house at 8:30 for work, you can program the thermostat to turn the heat down at 8:30. Then, you can start warming up the home 15-20 minutes before you come home.
Many people are also using smart thermostats so they can also control the temperature from home. It’s easier to make changes to the setting this way. There are also smart thermostats that ‘learn’ patterns within the home and adjust automatically.
With a programmable thermostat, you’ll save money and make your home more eco-friendly.
Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Use the ceiling fan during the winter? Yes! The blades on a ceiling fan are slightly tilted. When it spins in a counterclockwise direction, the air will blow directly downward, which creates the cool breeze you want to feel in the summer.
But when it spins in a clockwise direction, it pushes the air up and down along the walls. Since hot air rises, this motion pushes the warm air back into the room instead of letting it sit on the ceiling.
It’s a quick and easy change. You just need to look for the switch on your fan. Once you do it, you could save up to 10% on your heating bill.
Stock Up On Winter Supplies
When the roads are icy and there’s a power outage, you won’t want to head out to the store to pick up things you need. Make sure to stock up on these winter essentials:
- Flashlights: these are much needed when the power goes out. Small camping lanterns are perfect for lighting up an entire room, so consider getting one or two of them as well.
- Spare batteries: For the flashlights and anything else that might lose power, like your alarm clock. It’s always good to have extra batteries on hand anyway.
- Solar USB chargers: To keep your phone charged when the power is out.
- Snow shovel and/or snow blower: You’ll need to get rid of the snow from your driveway and walkway somehow. Snow blowers aren’t too expensive, and they’re practically essential for anyone with a long driveway. Some prefer the exercise and affordability of the shovel, so get what works best for you.
- Rock salt: This melts ice, creating a safer walkway and driveway if you need it.
- Water and non-perishable food: Think about what you might be able to eat if the power’s out and you aren’t able to use the stove or microwave.
- Extra pet food and litter: We can sometimes get days of snow at a time in Edmonton, so you don’t want to make unnecessary trips. Pet food and litter are things that people sometimes forget to pick up during their weekly shopping trips.
- Boots and winter clothes: If you came from a warm climate, you may not have the items you need to keep yourself warm throughout the winter. Stock up early because things can sell out fast.
Some of these things might seem unnecessary at first glance, but in an emergency, you’ll be glad you have them.
While winters in Canada can be harsher than in some other places around the world, it just takes a little bit of preparation to get through them without trouble. By taking the time to winterize your home now, you can save money and time later on by avoiding the need for repairs. And you’ll even keep your home safe in an emergency. Now’s the time to get started.
Photo credit: depositphotos.com
About the Author:
At Sterling Homes, our mission is to provide the opportunity for affordable homeownership without compromise. Over the last 70 years, Sterling Edmonton has quickly become one of Edmonton’s most popular builders. We bring more than seven decades worth of exceptional customer service, superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship to the greater Edmonton area. As a member of the Qualico Group, Sterling Homes focuses on greater Edmonton’s finest family communities, while being able to offer some of the region’s most family friendly prices thanks to volume purchasing power for materials, trades and land. This has not only made Sterling one of Edmonton’s bestselling, move-up builders, but also one of the industry’s most respected home providers. It is through our uncompromising commitment to our customers that we proudly deliver the Sterling Advantage – that’s why each and every home we build includes a 10-year home warranty, a completion guarantee and new home warranty excellence rating. Our Advantage is our pledge that, when you build your dream home with Sterling, we will deliver a timely, well-built home you’re sure to enjoy for years to come.
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