Get your home winterized in a flash by following these 7 steps
Brace yourselves… winter is coming. Luckily, we’re sharing everything you need to know about how to winterize a house. Keep warm with full pockets here.
Dig out those winter woollies and invest in some thick socks because it’s about to get real chilly in Canada! With weather experts warning that it could be a colder-than-normal winter for three-quarters of the country, it’s definitely time to winterize your house.
‘Exceptionally cold’ is the prediction for parts of the Rockies, Prairies, Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. So check out these great tips for making your home warm and cosy, however deep the snow outside.
Did you know that it is possible to winterize a house in just a weekend and that it probably costs less than you expect? The secret is to choose a reliable source of heating, and then properly insulating your home to keep that precious warmth in, and the cold and frost out.
1) Check Your Furnace
Despite it being such an important inclusion in Canadian homes, we tend to forget all about the furnace until winter strikes. At that stage, if it’s not working properly, it’s going to be pretty uncomfortable until it’s fixed, and could also result in some very expensive repairs that you hadn’t budgeted for.
Space heating accounts for an amazing 63% of the energy used in the average Canadian home, so it’s crucial to choose the right system for your budget and needs. A common and costly mistake is to ‘buy cheap’, without taking into account the running costs of that particular method.
For example, an Energy Star certified forced-air furnace, fuelled by gas or propane, uses 12% less energy, on average, than a standard model? That saves you money and reduces your carbon footprint.
2) Improved Efficiency Ratings
Natural gas furnaces are considered the most efficient and cost-effective type of forced-air furnace and the good news is that prices have come down considerably over recent years. Efficiency ratings have improved, too.
Forced-air furnaces can warm your whole house by blowing heated air through ducts via air registers. Not only does this method provide heat quickly but, due to its quick recovery time when the temperature is decreased overnight to save energy, it doesn’t take long to warm back up again in the morning.
So the first step in winterizing your home is checking your existing furnace to see if it needs servicing or replacing. If you have noticed an increase in your utility bills, or you’re spending a fortune on repairs, it’s probably time for a new furnace. And it’s worth noting that if your furnace is over 10 years old, it’s not likely to have been particularly energy-efficient in the first place.
3) Cut Your Heating Bills
Did you know your old furnace is probably only operating at 50-60% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), meaning nearly half your utility costs are completely wasted? Upgrading to a new furnace could reduce your annual heating bills by a whopping 40%!
Remember, it is vitally important to seek expert advice, to ensure you get what you need, within your budget, and to have your new furnace professionally fitted.
So, with your main heating source ready for action, what else needs doing now, before the freeze really sets in? A really important one is checking chimneys and flues. Check for any blockages, such as bird nests, and ensure they are working properly. An easy way to check your chimney is to scrunch up some newspaper and light it, and then check the smoke is flowing right through.
4) Draught-Proof Your Home
It doesn’t matter how efficient your heating system is, if you’re letting all that lovely warmth escape through ill-fitting doors and windows. Despite the fact that windows only account for up to 10% of your home’s outside surface area, they can be responsible for 30% of the heat loss. So basically you’re paying to heat your garden!
If you can afford new, choose double or triple paned windows, Low Emissivity Windows, or storm windows. They are ideal for the Canadian climate. If your budget doesn’t run to that, there are cheap fixes available in hardware stores, including removable storm windows, that can be taken down in spring.
Your hardware store will also have several ways to stop the cold seeping in under doors, including fixed draught excluders and those good old fashioned door snakes! Any actual cracks or holes in your door or window frames can be sealed with a caulking gun.
5) Time To Insulate
Another way to keep the warmth in this winter is to ensure your roof is properly insulated. Roof and wall insulation comes as standard in most new energy-efficient homes these days, but some of us still live in draughty old houses.
It’s not a big job to have your roof insulated, and it is certainly worth it. You can also cut down on heat loss by insulating your water pipes and placing a layer of insulation between radiators and exterior walls to reflect back the warmth.
6) Some ‘Fixes’ Are Free
We’ve looked at some low-cost ways to winterize a house, but there are some more things you can do that don’t cost a cent. For example, before it gets so cold you can’t feel your fingers, give all your gutters a good clean. Otherwise, you could end up with some pretty spectacular icicles!
And switch any ceiling fans to the winter setting, so that warm air is directed back down into the room.
While you might not have the time, this is actually the perfect time of year to have your ‘spring’ clean! At the very least, pack away your summer clothes and shoes to create more room. But it’s also a great idea to tidy and clean up your garage, so the tools and products you may need for winter are easily accessible.
7) Be Prepared
It’s also time to stock up the pantry and freezer, just in case you get snowed in. And while you’re at it, prepare a storm kit, containing torches and batteries, candles and matches, radio, basic tools, first aid items, food and water, and so on. Spare fuel for the car is also a good idea.
For most of you, this is probably just another winter, but it never pays to be complacent. Weather conditions can change quickly and severely. Winter storms and excessive cold result in over 100 deaths every year in Canada.
To Winterize a House Means You’ll Enjoy the Season
It is important to fully winterize a house and be prepared; listen to news and weather updates, keep warm and eat well. That way you can survive the chill and enjoy the winter season.