Winterizing Your Older Home to Stay Warm While Saving Energy and Money
Winterizing an older, drafty home can add up to huge savings during the winter heating months. Winterizing to eliminate drafts and heat loss through open crevices or inefficient windows will both keep you more comfortable in your home, and reduce the time furnaces and heating units need to run to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, thereby cutting down the cost of fuel and electricity to run them.
Each winter, much of the heat in older homes is lost through drafts and crevices around doors and windows that result from an old house settling over the years. Take note of the spaces in your home where you can feel cold air entering. Depending on the source of your problems, there are a few winterizing options to fix them.
Expandable foams work well for areas that are hard to reach or are oddly shaped. The foam comes in an aerosol can with a straw attachment. Simply insert the straw into the crevice and spray. The foam will expand to fill the space and will work around any objects in the wall to form a tight seal. Once hardened, any spray foam insulation that has escaped the wall can be trimmed using a razor knife. Trimmed spray foam can be sanded and painted to match your interior. You can also cover it with putty or trim.??
If drafts are the result of larger, more uniform spaces or missing trim, consider whether adding decorative trims and/or molding might do the trick. Fill air exposed gaps with pieces of insulation or spray foam, then finish with decorative molding and trim for better protection and winterization. Paint or stain it to match the room; your home be weather-proof and look great too.??
Drafts around windows and doors are often the result of units that no longer fit tightly into their frames. The same home settling that can cause gaps and crevices between walls and casings can result in windows and doors that do not close tightly. Check latches and latch plates to determine if they continue to function and latch properly.
To be sure that closed windows and doors seal tightly, apply weather stripping around the frames where gaps are present. Doing so is also an opportunity to see if the caulking which seals frames, casings, or individual glass panes needs to be replaced. Additionally, be sure to keep all windows and doors locked whenever possible. Doing so will ensure the tightest seal possible against cold winter air.
??Even with your every attempt to seal the large drafts, an older home may still have some drafting around the bottom of doors and windows. Long, tubular, snake-like draft stops placed in front of doors and windows provide an additional barrier to wind and cold. Heavier, winter weight curtains and blinds are helpful as a general, over all protective agent on windows. They can serve as one more obstruction between your interior and cold air.??
For a more weather resistant winterizing barrier, hang storm windows and doors outside your home. If this that to be too difficult a project for you, there are other options available to winterize older, thin glass windows. Several manufacturers produce plastic window coverings that are applied to the interior window frame with double sided tape. They are quite wrinkly when first hung, but the plastic shrinks and smooths when it is hit with warm heat from a hair dryer, leaving you with a see through barrier that is nearly as clear as the window glass itself. Curtains, sheers, and coverings help to hide the edges of the plastic, which are essentially the only tell-tale signs that you used plastic on your windows.??
Many older homes suffer the consequences of old stone or block foundations with multiple drafts and cold air access plaguing pipes and plumbing fixtures. Accessible piping will benefit from a covering of inexpensive pipe insulation. The foam is preformed and slit through one side, making it ready to fit a variety of pipe sizes for additional protection from freezing temperatures.??
For even more winter protection under your home to conserve heat, energy, and prevent pipes from freezing, do what early generations have done for decades and bank your home. Banking puts a temporary stop to cold air flowing through foundation openings and cracks by insulating from the outside.
Hay bales stacked along a drafty foundation wall prohibit the flow of cold air, but are unsightly to many. Plastic sheeting and specially purposed rolls of thin foam insulation are available and effective to cover and winterize foundation openings as well.
Other tried and true methods of inconspicuously banking foundations is to rake leaves and mulch against the foundation, or shoveling up snow once an adequate accumulation has fallen. This method can be unreliable if the winter is cold and without snow, or a warm spell diminishes your bank. Another thing to take into consideration is that cold weather often hits long before accumulating snow flies.??
Inspect your home for other sources of potential cold infiltration and heat loss. Permanently installed air conditioning units should be covered to both protect the unit and prevent cold from entering your home through them. Be sure that holes allowing gas and utility lines fit snugly, but use appropriate caution working around them and be sure to never block heating units or vents while winterizing your home.??
For optimal efficiency, furnaces and heating units should be professionally cleaned. Filters should be replaced annually. Adding this task to your home winterizing checklist is a good idea. Not only will furnaces run more cleanly and effectively, but clean units will also save you money.??
If you find your home is extremely hard to heat and winterizing is too demanding a task, or if your winterizing efforts are having little effect on the large picture of maintaining efficiency and saving energy dollars, consider hiring a professional to upgrade your home.
It may be time to replace windows and doors with more energy efficient, insulating models. Similarly, having added or new insulation installed along exterior walls and roofs, and possibly re-siding your house may cost you surprisingly little in the long run as opposed to continually heating an inefficient home that is not able to hold the warm air.
Technology has produced many new products and techniques that are minimally invasive and can be quickly applied, such as exterior insulations that can be blown in without ripping into a house’s walls.?? Whether by small tips and tricks or major renovation, winterizing your home against cold air and heat loss makes living there more comfortable and cost effective. Inspect your home today and prepare for a more comfortable winter season.?