Let it snow!

How to winterize your home

 

We've already had our first snowfall, and have pulled out our winter coats and boots from storage. Though it may seem like winter has already arrived, there’s still time to make sure that your home is properly prepared for the winter months ahead. 

Winterizing your home can prevent damage and expensive repairs down the road and can also add energy efficiency to your home, which will give you a break on your heating bill this winter. Winterizing your home doesn’t necessarily take a lot of skill or handyman skills either. There are some very simple tasks you can complete that will make a big difference to your house this season. Here are a few things you can easily do to make sure you and your family are safe and warm while there is snow on the ground.

Windows and doors

Windows and doors are one of the biggest areas where heat can escape and cold air can enter during the winter months. To make sure that your home is energy efficient and ready for winter, you can do the following:

  • Examine doors and windows. Take a close look at all of the external doors and the windows in your house to see if there are gaps where warm air can escape. If it is already cold outside, stand near the windows and doors to feel if there are any drafts of cold air coming inside. Mark any problem areas so that you know what needs to be repaired.
  • Fix problem areas. Now that you have found the gaps, it’s important to close them properly. If you can see light around the edges of your doors, you need new weatherstripping. This can be purchased at a local hardware store and easily installed at home. If there are gaps around windows, you will need to replace the weather-resistant caulking on the outside of the windows. In a pinch, a rolled-up towel can be used to block the draft until a more permanent solution can be found.    
  • Replace older windows. If you have older windows and doors, replacing them with double-paned or storm windows and doors can help reduce heat loss considerably. 
  • Add extra window insulation. You can purchase and install window insulation film quickly and easily to add another layer of insulation to your windows. If you would like to add something less permanent and less expensive, you can tape bubble wrap to the inside of your windows or install heavy winter drapes to help keep the cold air out and the warm air in. 

Heating

Having a reliable furnace is an important part of winter in Alberta. While there is a possibility of future repairs being needed, there are some things you can do each fall to make sure that your furnace is running safely and efficiently. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Replace your furnace filter. If the filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder. Making sure that you replace these filters regularly in the winter will help keep things running smoothly. 
  • Get your furnace inspected. Before you turn your furnace on for the season, hire a professional to inspect and repair any small problems. They will also make sure everything is running safely. While they are there, you could also ask them to check your heating ducts for any blocks or leaks.
  • Reverse ceiling fans. By switching the direction of your ceiling fan to run clockwise, you will push warm air down throughout the winter months and force it to recirculate throughout the room. This small change can help make the most of the warm air that is already in your house. Just don't forget to change the direction again for the summer months. 
  • Improve your insulation. Insulation does deteriorate over time, so you may want to add more material in your attic and crawl spaces before the winter hits.

Outdoors

  • Trim any nearby trees. If you have any tree branches hanging near your roof, windows, or driveways, trim them back. Snow and ice will weigh them down and possibly cause them to break or swing into your property. 
  • Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to the formation of ice dams on your roof. Ice dams occur when water backs up and freezes near the edge of the roof. The ice continues to build up and eventually forms “dams” that block the path of melted snow from your roof. Water starts pooling in mini reservoirs and begins to seep into your house, causing water damage. To prevent ice dams, clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely. 
  • Be prepared. Make sure you buy a snow shovel and any sidewalk sand you may need now so that you’ll have it before winter weather hits.
  • Disconnect your hoses and sprinklers. Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and drain all of the water from them. If you have underground water systems, they will also need to be blown clean with air to make sure that the underground pipes don’t freeze and crack. 
  • Drain your pipes. All pipes leading to outdoor water faucets should be turned off and drained of any remaining water.

Once you have completed these easy tasks, you and your family can watch a winter storm outside while you are warm and cozy in your safe, efficient home.