Winterization Measures: With the
exterior better sealed, now it's time to turn your attention to the
interior. There area several simple, inexpensive things you can
do to save on heating costs. The next several suggestions are
listed in no particular order, but all are good ideas to address.
more insulation in the attic One of the best investments in
winterization (best because you can get good returns for the
investment) is adding more attic insulation. I know, reading the
labels of insulation packages can be mind-boggling. But it
doesn't have to be. Just know that more is usually better.
You should have a minimum of a foot (12 inches) if insulation in the
attic laying on the top of the ceiling.
many things, the higher the insulating properties (the larger R
value) the higher the cost will be. But do what you can afford,
keeping in mind that anything is better than nothing, and more is
better than a little. Just remember that when you lay out the
insulation it should be snug to the exterior walls to eliminate any
air gaps. And insulation works best if not packed too tight.
It should maintain nearly the same fluff it has when unrolled from
the package. Cutting and installing can be done with a utility
knife and tape measure.
Electrical receptacles any openings in exterior walls, even openings
on the interior side only, can let in cold air from inside the walls.
Electrical outlet and switch boxes are cut into walls, often with
small gaps between the boxes and interior wall covering. Those
gaps can be a quarter-inch wide. A typical box is 4-by-2 inches.
That quarter-inch gap around the perimeter is equal to a 1-by-3 inch
hole in your wall. Let's say your home has 10 outlets or
switches on exterior walls. All total, that's equivalent to a
5-by-6 inch hole in the interior wall letting cold air in. You'd
certainly want to patch that hole, wouldn't you? Well you can for
the initial steps are
taking to seal up the exterior, turn your attention to assuring
pipes are wrapped as needed.
stores and home centers sell outlet gaskets, thin foam rectangles that
sit behind the faceplate of a switch or receptacle and insulate the
gap between the box and surrounding wall board. Installing them
is the easiest repair discussed yet. Simply remove the cover
plate of the outlet or switch, slip the foam gasket in place, and
replace the cover. It's that simple but can really save you from
heating unwanted outside air.
lines: In many cases wrapping water lines with insulation is
unnecessary. But if the crawlspace of a home is not sealed up
such as a mobile home with inadequate underpinning or a water line
runs along an exterior wall of the foundation, then you might want to
consider covering it with insulation or installing a heat tape.
case of the example home mentioned in this story, the homeowner, this
author, made a major engineering mistake while rerouting water lines
one summer day several years ago during the kitchen remodel and snaked
the water lines for the faucet and dishwasher along an exterior
footing in an area that has only about two inches of clearance between
the soil and bottom of the floor joists. The next winter I
discovered, to my own dismay, that when the temperature dropped below
15 degrees outside for more than 24 hours or so that my water lines,
both hot and cold, would freeze.
were not wrapped with insulation or a heat tape. They sit just
inches in from the concrete footing and practically lay on top of the
ground. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the
cold wicks through the soil and quickly reaches the PVC pipes.
After a few freeze instances early that first winter I temporarily
removed a couple siding boards from the exterior wall and insulated
the pipes as best as possible with little space to work. The
afterthought fix has helped considerably, but during prolonged times
with temperatures hovering around 5 Fahrenheit or less I am sure to
leave that particular faucet dripping as a precaution. Never run
water lines along exterior walls if it can possibly be avoided! Simple
stuff a plumber would know, but not a novice first-time homeowner.
furnace clean Replace the furnace filter regularly. Although
it sound simple, how many people actually do it religiously? Not the
people I know, anyway. But it pays to create a routine of
switching out filters on a regular basis. Old houses seem to
manufacture dust at a rapid rate, so I switch out my furnace filters
every month. In a newer, less productive dust factory that might
only be required once or twice a heating season. But find what
works best for your furnace and then mark a reminder on a calendar.
with a combination of an electric furnace during mild fall and spring
days, and a wood furnace during hard winter. At the end of each
heating season I clean the ashes from my wood furnace and coat the
interior of the firebox with a film of used oil. I tie a rag to
a stick and use it as a mop to apply the oil. It keeps down the
likelihood of rust forming during summer when heating and cooling can
create moisture on metal surfaces. I also sweep my chimney good
at the same time. Come wood heating season I climb on the roof
and make a visual inspection of the flue with a flashlight to assure
birds have not built a nest in the pipe. Then I'm ready to fire
the furnace for the season. The amount of oil I use in the
spring for coating the firebox is only a half a quart or so at little
cost. I bought my chimney brush and fiberglass cleaning rods to
attach it to several years ago, and I intend to use the same setup
until I'm too old to keep up with a woodstove.
Other steps that can keep
heating costs down include keeping your heat source maintained.
For wood burning stoves or furnaces that means a clean flue. A
brush and cleaning rods are generally a one-time purchase that
will last year after year.
the ceiling fans Most ceiling fans have a small switch near the
bottom that allow the user to reverse the electric motor. In the
summertime the blades should be turning counter-clockwise, drawing
heat up and away from center of the room. In the winter the
blades should turn clockwise, pushing the warmer air (hot air rises,
remember that from high school science class) downward and causing it
to recirculate through the room.
gutters and yard debris One last winterization tip is to take time
and clean out the gutters after the last leaves have fallen and before
winter's dampness starts freezing ice on the roof. Clean gutters
and downspouts will not necessarily keep your home warmer in winter,
but it will certainly make it last longer. Winter involves lots
of water rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow all of which needs an
easy way to get off your roof and away from your home's exterior.
look to make sure any landscaping you might have done during the
summer months hasn't created drainage issues around the foundation.
Adding a flower bed or regrading a section of lawn can cause runoff to
divert toward the house instead of away. Check immediately after
a heavy fall or early winter rain for signs of water pooling near the
can really be trying, and especially to a homeowner. But by
taking the initiative to correct a few minor concerns and staying on
top of any issues, you can have a warm, inviting oasis from Old Man
Winter's foul breath. Robert Byrne is credited for saying
Winter is nature's way of saying 'Up yours'. But by following
these helpful tips just discussed you can have the final say in how
winter treats you.