How to Winterize Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

Meranda Adams
Written by Meranda Adams
Updated December 18, 2013
Man installing insulation
Tomasz Zajda / EyeEm / EyeEm via Getty Images

How sealing windows, cleaning gutters and other small steps will save money on energy this winter.

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You wouldn’t head out in a snowstorm without bundling up first, right? Your home also needs defenses against the coming cold weather. Want to stay cozy — and avoid costly problems — this winter? Plan ahead with these tips to prepare your home for winter.

Winterization infographic

1. Check that chimney and furnace

Before firing up your furnace this season, ask an HVAC technician to perform a tune-up to make sure it’s working safely. Likewise, don’t light the first fire until your chimney sweep gives the all-clear after cleaning any buildup and inspecting the flue for any problems.

2. Clear rain gutters

Autumn leaves likely cluttered your rain gutters, but get out your ladder or ask a handyman to clear debris before the first snowfall. Melting snow that refreezes in clogged gutters can cause an ice dam that may damage your roof.

3. Seal leaky windows and doors

If new efficient windows aren’t in your budget this year, cover up this costly source of air leaks to keep cold winds out and warm air inside. A handyman can install weatherstripping and caulk around the doors and windows, or seal them with plastic film.

4. Protect your pipes

Prevent a winter water blowout by removing and draining hoses on outside spigots. Use spray foam insulation to fill any openings around the hose bib to prevent cold air from infiltrating the wall and freezing the pipes inside. Insulate pipes in exterior walls, crawl spaces or attics, and leave indoor faucets trickling to keep water flowing during a freeze.

5. Ensure your insulation measures up

Take a ruler to your attic and see how many inches of insulation separate you from the outside air. Most homes should have at least 12 inches in the attic depending on the type of insulation, and the farther north you live the thicker it should be. If you’re not covered, call an insulation company to add more.

Bonus: Audit your energy usage

An energy efficiency auditor can pinpoint the exact sources of wasted energy in your home, helping to assess which windows leak and what wall lacks insulation. You can hire an auditor for a detailed assessment for a fee, or check with your utilities as some gas or electric companies offer basic audits for customers.

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