Of course, everyone knows that caulking your windows and weatherstripping your doors won’t help you much. Right? Well, all the cool kids do anyway, and that includes you because you’re here reading this article. A lot of the standard advice on getting your home ready for winter is filled with bunk. That includes the stuff that comes from many utility companies and famous people who try to help you save money, like Clark Howard. But what should you really do to prepare your home for an efficient and cozy winter?
Today, I’ll give you some tips that will be much more effective than caulking the windows. Ready?
1. Identify your pain
What’s your motivation for wanting to do something about your home? Are you dreading getting those utility bills? Do you have rooms that you just can’t use in winter? Does your house start smelling musty? Does that condensation on the windows bother you?
The first step is to identify your pain because that’s where you’ll find the motivation to do anything about the problems. It’s also critical in identifying the sources of those problems.
2. Assess your ability; Bring in the pros
First, a little Building Science 101: A house is a system. If you don’t understand how all the pieces work together, don’t try to do too much yourself. A lot of DIYers with great intentions end up costing themselves more money or even poisoning their families because they don’t understand the potential impacts of changes they make.
For example, if you have a natural draft water heater in the laundry room, sealing up that room could cause backdrafting and put carbon monoxide into the air inside the home. Even worse, when the family goes to bed at night and closes the bedroom doors is the most likely time for this to happen.
Hey, I hope to die in my sleep, but I want it to happen when I’m old and feeble. (I sometimes tell people I want to die peacefully in my sleep, just like my grandfather…not screaming in terror like the people who were in the car with him. That’s a terrible joke, though, and if you get in trouble for it, don’t tell them you got it from me.)
Anyway, changing the filter in your heating system or making other minor changes is probably OK, but if you’re making significant changes, hire a pro. Certified BPI Building Analysts or RESNET Home Energy Raters can help.
3. Fix the big leaks at the top and bottom
This was the focus of my article last week. That’s where the bigger holes are and that’s where the bigger pressure differences are. You’ll stop a lot more air leakage by fixing them first. The photo below shows how I sealed up the bathtub hole in a house.