Many winters promises to be long and cold and expensive so winterizing your home now will save you money on heating bills later as the icy winds blow. The first thing to do is a survey of your home with a notebook and measuring tape in hand. Look in your attic and note the depth and quality of the insulation. Look under your house in the crawl space or basement and again note the depth and quality of the insulation. While under the house look at your water pipes to see if they are exposed, already insulated, or wrapped with electric pipe heating wire. Make measurements so you will know what you need. Now it is time to get to work on the actual winterizing project.
1. Check the recommended insulation R value for your area and bring insulation in the attic up to that code. Blown in rock wool insulation is easy and affordable and the machine to blow it in can be borrowed or rented from the place where you get the insulation.
2. Be sure the crawl space beneath your house has a 6 mil polyethylene ground cover and fiberglass batting (R-19) insulation under the floor between the floor joists. In a basement the floor joist may not be exposed but if they are make sure the floor is insulated.
3. Heavy curtains or window quilts that can be removed to let the sun naturally warm the house during the day and closed at night are essential for retaining heat during long cold nights. ï¿½ Make inexpensive window quilts by measuring the space between the frames, cut two pieces of heavy cardboard to size and sew or glue bright colored quilted fabric onto them. Make loop handles on each side for easy removal during the day.
4. Under the house insulate any exposed water pipes. You can get pipe insulation material that is a long tube split down one side that pops right over the pipe at any hardware store. The alternative is to wrap the pipes with heating tape and plug it in on the first chilly night. Stuff the cavity around your water meter with crumpled newspaper or lay in some leftover insulating material to keep the pipes going into your house from freezing at this exposed point.
5. Buy covers for any outside faucet now so it is on hand the evening the weather report first warns of freezing temperatures. Use good caulking or weather stripping material around all your pipes where they enter the house so cold air does not come in around them. You will want to water all your trees and shrubs deeply before draining hoses and covering your faucets.
6. You may want to insulate your foundations but do not stack bags of leaves against your foundations to insulate them, because, unless totally dry, those leaves can spontaneously combust and catch your house on fire. Close off the vents to the crawl space and insulate the inside walls of the foundation with fiberglass insulation batting or a special quilting made for the purpose.
7. Check every door and window for a tight fit by lighting a candle and holding it near the frame. If the flame bends instead of standing straight up you will need to seal those cracks with foam or caulk replace any worn weather stripping.
8. Cut back any tree limbs that will be able to reach your house if whipped in a winter storm or broken off by an ice load.
9. Take down your screens and put up storm windows and storm doors. Make sure they fit tight and do not let breezes in around the edges, replace weather stripping as needed.
10. Depending on your primary heat source order now, be sure you have oil, coal, wood or propane supplies on hand before the demand that will cause delays in delivery when the first big storm hits. Vacuum dust and lint out of the furnace vents and clean the filters. Provide emergency heat sources in case of a power outage.
You can probably find other things that are specific to your home that you want to attend to but this list is a priority list that will get you started to preparing for a safe and warm winter.