Prepare Homes for Cold to Maintain Efficiency

Properly preparing a home for cold weather can save energy, help lower winter energy bills, and keep homeowners warm when temperatures drop. A well maintained and efficient home reduces heating bills, which could be a less than obvious selling point and a difference maker for potential home buyers. Follow these simple and inexpensive tips to prepare homes for the approaching cold weather.

Maintain furnace.
The best way to maintain a furnace’s efficiency is to change the furnace filter every 90 days. Have an HVAC specialist check the furnace, give it a tune up, and make sure it is in top working order. Also check the fireplace damper, and replace older or loose fireplace dampers.

Seal ductwork and wrap pipes.
Ductwork sealing can help a system run more efficiently. Check all the ducts in the heating system, and cover any leaks in the system with metal-backed tape. Find any exposed pipes and wrap them in insulation to keep them from freezing.

Caulk windows.
Windows are often the biggest problem in houses, especially old-fashioned glass-pane windows. Installing energy-efficient storm windows and storm doors can greatly reduce heat loss. Check window frames for cracks and fill them with caulk that contains silicon. Putty-like "rope caulk" can help seal large cracks.

Weatherstrip exterior doors.
Inspect all exterior doors for air leaks and apply weather strip and caulk as needed. A one-eighth-inch gap around a door is equivalent to a 6-inch-square hole in the side of a house. Check doors by holding a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weather strip around the door.

Check the perimeter and foundation.
Have a contractor inspect the outside of the house for cracks and seal them with waterproof caulk for window seals and mortar for cracks in brick or concrete facades.

Insulate walls and attic.
Insulation experts can determine if there is adequate coverage throughout a home, including the attic. In most cases, 12 inches of insulation is recommended. Measure the attic insulation. If there is less than 7 inches of insulation or if it is less than R-38, consider upgrading insulation with spray-foam or batt insulation. Additional insulation can be blown into walls, and there are options for insulating flat roofs, crawl spaces and floors.

Clean gutters.
Make sure gutters are cleared of debris. If they are not properly cleared, winter precipitation can freeze, causing damage to roofs and other areas of the home.

American Home Shield is providing the information for general guidance only. Due to the general nature of the property maintenance and improvement advice in this material, neither American Home Shield Corporation, nor its licensed subsidiaries assumes any responsibility for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the use of this information.