Winterizing: Five Ways to Protect Your Home From the Cold

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Home improvements, heating products and services can help keep your monthly heating bills manageable. Winterizing isn’t just about keeping you more comfortable and saving money during the frigid winter months, however. An improperly winterized home can cause health and safety hazards as well as damage that can lead to expensive repairs. Here are five ways to protect your family and your property while staying cozy and warm in your home.

  1. Tighten the Seal on Your Building Envelope

    Any gap in an exterior wall lets cold air inside and allows the air that you’ve paid to heat to escape outside. Armed with caulk and can of polyurethane spray foam, seal up the leaks around any fixture that passes through walls, including plumbing pipes, gas lines and electrical conduits. Check bypasses in your attic floor too. Gaps around things like ducts, recessed lighting fixtures and attic hatches provide an escape route for household heat.

  2. Insulate Windows

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heat lost through windows can account for as much as twenty-five percent of your heating bill. The easiest way to insulate windows is to add new weather stripping to the sash and a fresh bead of caulk around the casing. With a snugly fitted storm window, you can achieve the same energy savings as a new, high-efficiency insulated window.

  3. Have Ductwork Inspected for Leaks

    Up to twenty percent of the air that passes through ductwork is lost to leakage in the average home, according to the EPA. Skilled HVAC contractors offer pressure testing services that can identify how much air is lost to leaks, cracks and gaps in the ducts. If results show leakages of more than two percent, you can save money by having the ducts sealed and insulated.

  4. Protect Pipes from Freezing

    Your plumbing needs extra attention during the winter. A pipe exposed to frigid air can cause the water that passes through them to freeze and burst the pipe. Save yourself from a costly repair by winterizing your plumbing system. Disconnect all garden hoses and cover outdoor spigots. In states with early winters, these preventative measures should be taken in autumn—plumbing in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and most of the Northeast can be in danger as early as October. Protect exposed pipes along outside walls and in your basement, attic and crawlspace with thick foam-rubber insulation or arrange for a qualified plumber to undertake the task for you.

  5. Schedule Heater Maintenance

    A well-maintained furnace or boiler not only operates at peak efficiency but provides safeguards for your family’s health and safety as well. Without regular maintenance, however, heater parts can corrode and allow harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Seasonal tune-ups ensure that you enjoy safe and efficient operation.

By investing a minimal amount of time, money and effort in winterizing your home, you’ll enjoy a substantial reduction in your monthly utility bills. You can leave most of your winterizing improvements in place throughout the year for energy savings and enhanced comfort in every season.

Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.

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