Winterizing Your Home: Eight Ways to Prepare for a Tough Season


It’s almost that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, trees are shedding their leaves, and store shelves are already stocked with holiday merchandise. Is your home prepared for the coming winter? The holiday season brings with it harsher weather that can result in mid-season repairs and increased energy bills. A little preemptive work now can help save you money and headaches once winter begins in earnest.

Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for winter weather:


Heat escaping a home through an improperly insulated chimney

Fireplaces are an obvious and cozy way to keep your home warm in the winter, but your holiday fire may be costing you money in ways you never considered. The chimney acts as an express exit for warm air. An open chimney allows the heat from your home (supplied from both your fire and your HVAC unit) to escape rapidly through your chimney before you can benefit from it. The immediate area around the fire may feel warm, but the rest of the rooms in your home will begin to get colder. As much as 1,000 cubic feet of warm air escapes through a chimney per minute, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you want to keep your energy bills low, installing an airtight tempered glass door to the front of your fireplace is the best way to keep the heat from your home from being sucked out through your chimney. Alternatively, if you don’t plan on using your chimney, make sure to cap it with an airtight seal. Sealing your chimney not only keeps your house insulated, but also prevents small animals like birds, squirrels, and even cats from climbing in them.


CertainTeed professional applying insulation to an attic to prepare for winterProper insulation is the most important and effective way to make sure the heat in your home stays where it should be. Don’t forget to properly insulate you attic and crawlspaces. Insulation in these areas keeps warm air down in the living area and prevents it from escaping into the attic. Warm air that has managed to rise up into the attic can melt snow and ice on the roof, causing ice dams. Now is the perfect time of year to check your attic’s insulation levels. If you can see the floor joists, you probably need to add some more. CertainTeed’s InsulSafe®SP makes it easy to add additional insulation in hard to reach places.


“Piping hot” is not always a good thing. Hot water pipes mean lost heat, and you certainly need to conserve all the warmth you can during the winter. To test if you are losing heat through your pipes, safely touch them to test their temperature. If they are warm, you can use pipe insulation sleeves to wrap and blanket your pipes, trapping the heat inside where it belongs. These easy to install, pre-cut sleeves can be found at most home stores.


Your heating system has a lot of hard work ahead of it, so it’s important that you properly prepare it for winter. Make sure your heating unit gets annual checkups from an HVAC expert to make sure it’s ready to support you during cold weather. Remember to replace your air filters, perform a safety check, and verify that motors and blowers are running cleanly and efficiently. It’s best to inspect and start your heating system ahead of time, not on the first day of a snowstorm.


Now is a good time to make sure your roof is prepared for the serious cold weather conditions it’s about to face. Neglecting to fix a problem in October can mean replacing a roof in February, so it’s best to take action now rather than later and spend a few minutes checking your roof. Our quick roof inspection guide can help walk you through the process. Spending 30 minutes to check your roof now can save you weeks of headaches in the future. Checking your trees is also a good idea at this time of year. A winter storm can cause broken or precarious branches to fall, damaging your roof or other property. Hire a professional to cut away dangerous limbs, but do not attempt to take care of these branches yourself. Tree trimming is dangerous work.

After the leaves have fallen and before snow appears is the right time to check your gutters and downspouts. Ensure that they are clean and ready for winter rain and slushy-mix. Cleaning gutters may not be a fun task, but it gets considerably less so as the weather gets colder.


applying a window insulation kit to keep a home warm in winterOne of the major points of entry for winter to invade your home is through the windows. About 10 to 25 percent of your home’s heat can be lost through the windows. Storm windows and doors are your best bet in the battle against winter weather, but if you don’t have these windows and doors, there are still effective ways to keep you home warm. Seal up any holes or cracks on the outside with caulk, and then apply weather-stripping and use a window insulation kit (easily installed with a hairdryer) to block the cold from the inside.

Ceiling Fans

Most ceiling fans have a switch that changes the direction of the fan. With your ceiling fan rotating in a clockwise direction, warm air collecting in the upper areas of a room can be recirculated throughout your home.

Exterior Faucets

If you have an exterior faucet that’s prone to freezing, now is a good time to install an anti-frost faucet called a frost-free sillcock. These faucets have valves located within the wall of your home instead of outside, where it can freeze and cause the pipes to burst.

Winter is on its way, but a little work now can mean a season spent safe and sound in a warm and efficient home. Visit our Complete Comfort site for more tips and advice on insulating your home.

Want to add insulation to your home before things start to get really cold? We can help. Find a Pro.

Plus, your guide to whole home comfort, and a fall efficiency and durability checklist.

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