Checklist: Winterize Your Home

by Jon Nunan

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As cold weather approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the chilly months. Weatherproofing is generally a task that can be done relatively inexpensively, but will make a big difference in how comfortable your home is, and could end up saving you money on energy bills, too. In fact, many very effective home weatherproofing jobs are something that homeowners can complete without professional help.

Easy Home Weatherproofing
Some small weatherproofing jobs require little to no "handiness", but can make a real difference once cold weather hits. By doing these things before the snow flies, you'll be saving yourself some hassle (and possibly some money, too!):

• Clean gutters and downspouts in mid-fall and double-check them before winter.

• Replace the filter in your furnace.

• Close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather.

• Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and turn off the water.

• Buy a snow shovel and other winter supplies before the messy weather hits.

• Keep extra water and canned food in storage just in case.

Home Weatherproofing Inspections
Though some homeowners might tackle these jobs themselves, there's no substitute for a professional eye to ensure home efficiency through the cold winter months:

• Check the attic, walls, and basement for adequate insulation.

• Feel around electrical outlets and switch-plates for cold air, add insulation where necessary.

• Look around doors and windows for gaps and potential places where warm air can escape.

• Caulk or apply weatherstripping around problem draft areas.

• Have a contractor look for damaged roof shingles and loose gutters.

• Have a heating/cooling expert look at your furnace if you are unsure of its efficiency.

• Have chimneys and woodstoves cleaned early in the season.

• Test the flue for each fireplace for a tight seal when closed.

Weatherproof Windows
Though there are many places in the home where heat can escape and cold air can enter, windows are one of the biggest culprits. In older homes, especially, having weatherproof windows can make a marked difference in your energy costs and how comfortable your living areas feel. In some instances, you might only need s bit of caulk or weather-stripping to weatherproof windows, but if your windows are well past their prime, consider replacing them with energy-efficient double paned windows to create a more efficient space.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.