Friday, September 7, 2012

Preparing for Winter

Maybe you’ve heard it will be a cold winter this year. That means different things depending on where you live. Here is the Midwest it means high utility bills. How do you trim these out of control bills? Is your house well insulated?  Unrolling a few rolls of insulation in the attic will improve your house’s ability to hold heat.

Are your windows the drafty single pane type?  The best deal would be to replace them, but barring that you can insulate them too. Once you’ve decide you aren’t opening them again, put up the storm windows. Don’t have storm windows, go for plastic sheeting kit in your local hardware store that will insulate you from winter’s cold breezes.

How well do your doors seal? Can you see a daylight underneath your exterior doors? If so you need weather stripping at the bottom. An old fashion draft dodger filled with sand and looks like a long dog will work on the interior side. You can make these out of old ties too. In that case, I would use rice or buckwheat since sand escapes easily. Some people even use these on drafty windows.

When gardening is over, remember to unhook your hose, and cover your spigots. Turn off the outside water to prevent leaks and pipes freezing. Walk the perimeter of your foundation and look for cracks. Better, you find it now than after water seeps in, freezes and widens the crack. You can repair this yourself with concrete. There are companies that will repair it for you too.

Inside your home, replace as many light bulbs as you can with the twisty fluorescent bulbs. Eleven percent of your electric bill is lights only. If you lower your thermostat two degrees you’ll save ten percent off your bill.  Another plus, being a little cold can burn as much as 700 extra calories a day. This is why we buy sweaters in the fall. Your outlets may be letting in cold air. You can buy for pennies insulators to stick in your switches and outlets.

Are you heating rooms you almost never use? Close the vents in these rooms until needed. Are you living in a slab with ceiling vents? If so, make sure you have ceiling fans to bring the heat down to you.  Turn down the thermostat even more when you go to bed.  Do not go under sixty because it will take too much energy to get the house warmed up again.  Electric blankets and mattress pads will keep you toasty through the night.

If you are only using a few rooms in your house, then only heat those rooms. Natural gas, despite experiencing a decrease in the product price, has raised their prices significantly. To battle this expense, you can resort to a space heater especially when everyone is in the same room, or even throws. Remember never leave a space heater running while you are asleep or gone. Unattended heaters are a major fire starter.

Sometimes the simplest things are the easiest ways to stay warm. Clean out the garage, so not only can you go to work in a warm car, but it extends the life of your car. Keep your doors closed. Change out the screen door panel for a glass one. Pets and children tend to want to run in and out.  Make sure children have what they need before leaving. Pets are problematic, you have to judge if Fido really needs to go out. Make sure before retiring, you close all the blinds, and curtains to add another buffer against the cold.

Never underestimate the power of a hot meal or a cup of tea as far as keeping you warm. Unlike summer, feel free to use your stove and oven. You can leave the oven cracked after baking to let the residual heat dissipate into the house. Don’t heat your house with your stove because it is a fire hazard and an accident waiting to happen.  Venting your dryer in your house will encourage mold besides leaving a sticky, linty residue on everything.

A little work now should cut your future utility bills. Some companies will even allow you to sign up for a budget plan. This is helpful because you don’t want to be hit with a huge bill about the time you get ready to go holiday shopping.


  1. Winter-proofing your home before the actual season comes is always a good idea. It would be best to check both your home’s exterior and interior for places that might compromise your home’s insulation, like the attic, basement, and windows. You should also check your roof for loose shingles and areas that may cause leaks. And clean your gutters so that snow will melt right off and not get stuck and cause an overflow to your sides or end up as a frozen puddle in your walkways. – Missie

  2. Replacing your window panes and reroofing would be the best option when you're winter-proofing your home. DIY inspections can help you, yet I believe hiring contractors is a wiser decision. They can give you the best advice on what to do with your exterior and interior insulation, and well, do the actual job for you with ease.

    Toby Almy @ TittleBrothers