Homeowners typically think weatherization means extra insulation and sealing air ducts. However, winterizing your home means so much more, like reducing the risk of ice dams and drainage problems.
What is winterization?
For novice homeowners, then there might be some ambiguity to what does ‘winterization’ actually mean? From Wikipedia: winterization is preparing something for winter.
However, that does not help homeowners because it lacks details, such as, what are those preparations.
“Winterization is the process of making home improvements, modifications and/or repairs that help neutralize the impact of cold weather.”
With winterization, homeowners find ways to prevent the cold outdoor air from affecting the interior temperature.
What does winterization prevent?
Done correctly, winterization restricts airflow. Homeowners make modifications to keep air inside the house. There are natural leaks inside the home around the roofs, windows and doors. Preventing cold air outside the home from seeping into the house and hot air inside the house from leaking outside has some downstream effects.
Winterization aims to block air leaks. As Art of Manliness notes, according to the US Department of Energy, air drafts waste about 5-30% of home energy. If you locate air leaks, then, as Art of Manliness notes, there are some simple do-it-yourself methods to stop leakage.
“You’re likely to find drafts underneath doors and near windows. If you find a leak underneath your door put a draft snake across the bottom of it. A simple rolled up bath towel will work. If you have leaks near your windows, get some weather-resistant caulk and caulk them from the outside. You can use weather stripping as well. Other places you might want to check for leaks are where pipes and wires exit your foundation.”
In New England, ice dams are a major problem and winterization can help prevent them. Ice dams occur when melting snow meets freezing air. Frequently, hot air rising throughout the home and escaping through the roof warms the snow on the exterior. As the melting snow meets freezing air, typically at the eaves, then ice begins to form and ice dams are created.
Why does winterization work?
Proper weatherization meets at the intersection of insulation and air sealing because these two actions prevent air leakage and conduction. Combined, then winterizing your home helps homeowners stay comfortable and save energy.
Additionally, winterizing your home has a few benefits, such as reducing moisture and the risk of mold. As a result, homeowners experience lower monthly energy expenses, while improving indoor air quality.
How does all of this happen?
By controlling airflow, mainly through insulation, then heating (and cooling) systems do not work as hard. The reduced workload means less energy costs because the HVAC system is not constantly in use during the winter.
Along those lines, improved air quality is another benefit of winterizing your home. At the start of the winterization process, then you want to inspect your furnace and heating ducts (or have a professional inspect) to ensure there are not any major issues. Following the inspection, then homeowners can set a schedule to check and replace, as needed, the furnace filter.
How much does winterizing your home cost?
The first step to winterizing your home should likely be a home energy checkup because you should understand what needs modifications and/or repairs. An energy checkup helps identify air leakage, which means you’ll understand where money is seeping through your house.
The initial effort to winterize your home can be quite costly, especially if you have an old home. However, there are government subsidies and financing is available, as well as tax rebates that can offset some of the upfront costs.
Debbie Markman, Economic Security Corporation Resource Development Director provided some information for National Weatherization Day, where some municipalities weatherize homes in low-income neighborhoods.
“Once work is complete, officials expect the changes to have an impact of at least 35%. Homeowners will see about a 35% decrease in their electric bill. Organizers say working together is key to making a project like this possible.”
What are weatherization basics?
There are some basic actions that homeowners should know and can complete to prepare their home for winter. Initial steps relate to the building envelope, which is simply the physical barrier between the interior and exterior of a building.
Next, following or supplementing a home energy checkup, then find or develop a checklist (available for download). It may take some time to work through the items to check and perhaps modify or repair, so start soon!
The main priority is restricting airflow to keep the heated air inside the home. Obviously, one major area with air leakage are doors, however, another overlooked area are power outlets. For DIYers, then there are some simple ways to make your own draft dodger and insulate power outlets. Importantly note, that insulating power outlets could be a major fire hazard, so please follow instructions carefully or have a professional insulate (or inspect) the outlets.
Check Safety Instruments
Additionally, a simple and impactful action is checking your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. As the Art of Manliness notes, homeowners should be aware of the downstream effects of overused and outdated appliances.
“Winter sees an uptick in the number of home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces and boilers overtime in order to keep warm. To keep your family safe, check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change them if needed.”
Clean and Clear Gutters
Also, there are some actions around the yard that impact your home. Winter storms shed rain, sleet and snow on trees. During the fall, take the time to trim some trees that are near your home to prevent home damage. In addition, clean the gutters and possibly install leaf guards to help proper drainage of snow and rain caused by winter storms. By helping ensure clean water ways, it will prevent buildup that may lead to ice dams during cold and freezing temperatures.
Weatherization is an important annual task that homeowners should take for a variety of reasons. Certain parts of proper weatherization can be quite costly, but help contribute to reduced savings over time. For homeowners that may or may not be in long-term homes, then find a savings calculator and determine if it makes financial sense to undertake costly projects. Alternatively, there are some smaller tasks related that are easy to complete and should be done each year.
For any and all winterization questions, then SolvIt has the expertise to answer specific questions. Homeowners that are serious about protecting the value of their home, while reducing costs, should consider a home energy checkup because the findings really help identify ways to protect your home and savings.
We hope this helps enlighten homeowners on the role weatherization plays to protect your home. Please feel free to reach out to SolvIt with any questions or schedule a service!