As fall morphs into winter and temperatures increasingly drop, you may notice cooler weather inside your home as well. One reason: Things like cracks in window panes, poorly insulated water heaters and clogged air filters can mean your home is not acquiring its maximum energy efficiency.
You could hire a contractor or other worker to fix a hole in your window letting cold air in, or affix insulation to your attic walls — but that can be a hassle, breaking your budget and butting into your schedule. The good news is there are easy projects you can do yourself around your home to prepare for winter — that will save you time and energy, won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and you can do it on your own time, whenever you please.
Here are some common problems that occurs in homes when winter arrives, and how you can fix them — all by yourself.
1. Seal holes and gaps in walls and windows
Gaps and cracks in your foundation and walls can cause chilly air, and sometimes even rodents, to sneak inside your home.
“It doesn’t take much to get rid of that outdoor draft that comes in,” says Jan Cregier, owner of Interior Expressions by Jan in Bartlett, Ill., and a member of the national board of the Interior Design Society (IDS). All you need to fill the holes are some foam and caulk, which can be found at nearly every local hardware store. Use an adhesive foam around window and door gaps and expanding foam for sealing cracks and pipes. Also try a paintable caulk, which comes off easily if you’re mistake prone (and it will last for years to come).
2. Add insulation
Insulation’s job? To keep warm air inside and keep cold air out.
“It’s amazing how even a small draught can make a room a lot colder, so if you can cut that bit of air out it immediately makes a difference,” says Claire Potter, an interior designer. Use rolls of foam insulation, which are inexpensive yet still get the job done. Additionally, mineral wool, glass fiber and recycled paper products work just as well to insulate your home. When installing insulation, remember to wear protective face ware such as a mask or goggles and protective clothing.
3. Give doors and windows an upgrade
The most energy efficient windows are double- and triple-pane. At your local store, look for “low-emissivity” (low-E) window glass that’s been treated with an invisible metallic coating, which saves energy and reflects heat.
“It’s kind of like putting sunglasses on your window,” says Anna Marie Mavrakis, president of Mavrakis Construction and Cottage Draperies & Interiors in Canton, Ohio, and president of IDS. An even easier option is covering the inside of your windowpanes with Frost King, a removable polyurethane film. All you need is a hair dryer to shrink and pull the plastic tight to avoid wrinkling.
4. Fill cracks in flooring
As much as 10 percent of heat can be lost through floors if they’re not properly insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF). The easiest fix is placing a decorative rug on the floor or installing carpet, but if you’re set on your hardwoods, some filler will do to heal the cracks.
“Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so you should use a filler that can tolerate movement,” the NEF recommends. Note: A silicone-based filler is a good example of one that can tolerate movement.
5. Pay attention to air filters
A dirty or clogged air filter means that central air will have to work overtime to heat your home — and that can be costly. It’s important to change your filters every one to three months, but especially when it gets cooler outside. A great choice of filter is a pleated one, which may capture more dirt. You can do this yourself in a matter of minutes, and filter replacements can be picked up at your local hardware store.
All it takes are a few quick fixes and your home will be warm, cozy, and best of all, energy efficient come the arrival of Old Man Winter.
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