Home Winterizing Checklist

Pumpkin spice lattes. Vibrant, fiery leaves. Candy corn and bite-sized candy bars…fall has arrived and winter is on its way! Which means it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your home.

What is winterizing? It’s exactly what it sounds like: prepping your home for the colder weather. 

“But wait,” you say, “Isn’t winterizing just for people who have cabins and lake houses?” Actually, no. To avoid wasting energy and money from air leakage, every home should be winterized. 

Air leaks from tiny cracks and gaps in your home can add up to a two-square-foot hole in your home. It’s basically like having a window open 24/7!

In addition to reducing energy waste, you can also avoid those annoying drafts and pesky insects and bugs that rush into your home as the weather gets cooler—air sealing can keep them out.

In a few quick steps, you can make your home healthier, cozier, and more efficient during the cold season. So, before you dust off your boots, sweaters, and scarves, let’s winterize!

Change air filters and clean vents

If you haven’t run your heating system in a while, it’s a good idea to check your ducts, clean your air filters, and vacuum or sweep out openings. This ensures you aren’t blowing extra dust and allergens around that can wreak havoc on your immune system during cold season.

Clean your gutters and roof

Gutters tend to fill up in the fall with leaves and debris. You should always keep your gutters clean because packed gutters can lead to water damage. In the winter, ice blocks can damage your gutters, siding, shingles, and roof. So be sure to clean them out before the cold weather comes. Consider leaf guards for your gutters, too, to prevent a buildup of debris.

Clean your chimney

If you haven’t used your chimney in a while, it’s a good idea to check and make sure no one else has! On top of looking for critters and their homes, look for soot and cracks and any anomalies. Call a chimney pro if something looks off.

Reverse the direction of your fans

Most fans have a switch to reverse the direction of airflow. Because warm air rises, this can be helpful in the winter to push warm air back down.

Look for light coming in between the door and frame

Do you see little slivers of light around your door? Then you should get some weatherstripping! This is a common air leak space that can exchange air quickly, making it hard to keep your home heated. There are several types of weatherstripping for doors. Check out this video from This Old House for a quick introduction.

Check all your windows. Do you feel a draft when they are closed?

If you feel cold drafts around your windows, even when they are fully closed, there are many options for tightening them up. A simple step is to be sure you lock your windows, which tightens up the space between top and bottom sashes and the frame. You also might need to caulk around the window frame or use weatherstripping to ensure they seal well. Watch this video from This Old House for ideas on how to make your windows more energy efficient and keep in the heat during the colder months. 

Change out your curtains

If you have been using light, airy curtains during the warmer weather, consider switching them out for heavier ones. This can help trap heat indoors, meaning less heat is transferred through your window glass.

Speaking of windows again… do you have storm windows?

Windows lose far more heat than walls, so they’re an important piece of ensuring your home stays warm during cooler months. Another recommendation to keep heat in and avoid wasting energy is removing screens (if you have them) and replacing them with storm windows. The double panes trap air, which acts as a layer of insulation, keeping heat in and cold air out.

Check behind appliances

When was the last time you moved your dishwasher, range, or dryer and peeked at what’s behind? If it’s been a while, don’t worry—that’s common. But here’s why you should change that: This often-overlooked space can contribute to drafts and heat loss and even bugs and critters. That’s because there are often unsealed gaps in these spaces where plumbing and more go through the walls. Expanding foam is a great tool to seal up larger gaps and ensure that air, bugs, and critters can’t get in during the winter months. 

There are many simple things you can do to prepare your home for winter. Start with this checklist, and you’ll be on your way to a cozy, comfortable winter. To learn a little more about where air might be coming in during the winter months, and how to fix it, check out this video from This Old House

And then go winterize, save some energy, and create a happy, healthy and cozy home!