How to Winterize a House in a Day

Winter is coming

Winter is coming, and we’re not talking about a plotline from Game of Thrones. As the heater begins to hum away, you may be concerned about your next utility bill. One of the best things you can do to keep the electricity and natural gas bills from getting too high is to winterize your home. 

You may have heard this term before. Winterizing means that you are sealing your home up so that the cold air doesn’t get in and the hot air doesn’t get out. The task sounds more challenging than it actually is, even if it’s your first time winterizing a home. 

If you want to get your house ready for the cold weather, use this quick guide to winterize your home in a day.

Step 1. Get Winterizing Supplies

Time to complete the task – Varies depending on drive time to the hardware store.

Start the day early by getting to the local hardware store. You’ll need to pick up a few winterizing supplies if you don’t have them already. Pick up:

  • Caulk 
  • Caulk gun
  • Weatherstripping 
  • HVAC filter
  • Foam outlet protectors
  • Foam faucet covers
  • Foam pipe insulation

Step 2. Put Weatherstripping Around the Exterior Doors

Time to complete the task – Approx. 10 minutes per door

Weatherstripping around the interior of the outer doors creates a nice tight seal when the door is closed. It’s a cheap and easy fix. You may not even need to do it this year if the door already has weather stripping that’s in good condition. 

Step 3. Caulk Up Cracks

Time to complete the task – Approx. 1-2 hours

This is the most time-consuming task of the day. Any gaps around the inside and outside of the windows and doors should be caulked. Likewise, you’ll want to go around the exterior of the house caulking any gaps that you see in the siding, around vents, and around pipes. 

Step 4. Insulate the Pipes

Time to complete the task – Approx. 1 hour

A burst pipe from the freezing cold is an expensive hassle. You can significantly decrease the odds of that happening by insulating the pipes that are outside and in areas that aren’t heated like the garage. Just put foam pipe insulation over the pipes and you’re done. Also, use foam faucet covers on all outdoor faucets if they don’t have a cut-off valve.

Step 5. Clean or Replace Your HVAC Filter

Time to complete the task – Approx. 2-5 minutes

The HVAC filter needs to be cleaned or changed regularly so that the system runs as efficiently as possible. The filter also helps to purify the air of particles, dust, debris and allergens. When your home is closed up for months a clean filter makes a big difference. 

Step 6. Install Foam Outlet Protectors

Time to complete the task – Approx. 2-5 minutes per outlet

Foam outlet covers prevent drafty air from leaking in around outlets. Just take the outlet cover off, place the foam insert inside then replace the cover and you’re done. 

Step 7. Check the Fireplace

Time to complete the task – Approx. 10-15 minutes

Do an internal and external check of your fireplace. Outside look for any signs of damage like sizeable cracks that need to be caulked. Next, make sure the flue works. It has to fully open while the fireplace is in use and close completely when not in use to prevent drafts. If you don’t plan to use the fireplace, install a chimney balloon. It’s a simple device that blocks drafts and prevents heat loss out of the chimney.  

These measures are good for fireplace safety as well as energy efficiency. 

Step 8. Put the Fans in Winter Setting

Time to complete the task – Approx. 1-2 minutes per fan

Fans cool you off in the summer, but they can also help keep you comfortable in the winter too. All you have to do is change the setting on the fan so that the blades turn clockwise. This will push hot air from above down to the floor. 

Step 9. Program Your Thermostat

Time to complete the task – Approx. 5 minutes (more if you have to research the features) 

A programmable thermostat can reduce energy use by as much as 10% if you lower the temperature by 7°-10°F at least 8 hours a day. We recommend programming the thermostat to lower the temperature by 7° or more if you plan to be out of the house for at least two hours. Also, program it to lower the temperature when you’re in bed asleep tucked under a warm comforter.

Step 10. Flush the Water Heater

Time to complete the task – Approx. 20-60 minutes depending on size

Sediment can build up over time, affecting the efficiency of your water heater. The annual winterization is a perfect time to flush it clean. The water can be flushed out of the water heater through the drain valve. It’s a simple DIY job that can be done at the end of the night before taking a nice hot shower. 

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