Weatherproofing your home against the chilly winter will help keep you warmer, more comfortable, it’ll lower your energy bills, and it will lessen your environmental impact.
This article contains some simple DIY things you can do to get your house ready for winter.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding Heat Loss in a Home
- 2 Blocking Cracks & Holes to Prevent Heat Transfer
- 3 Weatherproof your Doors
- 4 Weatherproof your Windows with Window Film
- 5 Caulking around Window Sills
- 6 Blocking other sources of drafts
- 7 Expanding Foam to Fill Gaps
Understanding Heat Loss in a Home
Heat is an energy form that goes from areas of high concentration to low concentration.
Basically, this means heat travels from warmer areas to cooler areas.
Cold, or cool, is the absence of heat energy.
So when you are heating your house, the warmed air inside your house – the heat energy – will transfer through cracks and holes to the colder outside air.
And cracks and holes can also let the chilly winter wind blow into your house.
Most of weatherproofing is trying to block your heated indoor air from escaping to the cold exterior.
So there are some simple steps you can take to weatherproof your house against the cold winter air.
Blocking Cracks & Holes to Prevent Heat Transfer
The things that are easy are to patch up are any cracks or holes in the openings of your walls.
This includes sealing gaps around doors, windows, electrical outlets on exterior walls, and any holes going through the exterior walls such as plumbing and electrical lines.
I have never lived in a new house so I have done most of these myself. And they are easy DIY weatherproofing options.
Weatherproof your Doors
To stop the transfer of heat energy around doors you can get weatherstripping that goes between the door and the door jam.
It might make your door slightly harder to close but this is a sign that the heat transfer should be reduced as well (tight seal).
The door weather stripping product shown below is currently considered Amazon’s Choice for Door Weather Stripping. Check it out here on Amazon if you want to learn more.
Another place of heat loss is underneath the door.
You can purchase a couple different types of door draft stoppers.
You can get some that physically attach to the bottom of your door and they’ll have either a brush or a piece of plastic hanging down that stops air from travelling outside to inside and vice versa.
An example of a door draft stopper that adheres to the door is shown below. This is a flexible silicone door stopper that sticks to the bottom of your door.
Another type of door draft stopper are the ones that are almost like stuffed snake animals. They block the gap at the bottom of the door to prevent heat transfer.
I found the product below on Amazon and I like how it sticks to the Velcro strip mounted to the bottom of the door. That’s clever.
Weatherproof your Windows with Window Film
Window technology has come along way in the last 50 years.
There are now double and triple pane windows with gases in-between the window panes. These sealed windows, and the gases inside the sealed area, act as an invisible insulating blanket.
But if you have older windows you can still take steps to help weatherproof your windows.
If you have older windows, such as single pane windows or older double pane windows, you may be losing heat through the antiquated windows themselves.
For old windows like this you can purchase plastic window film which attaches using double-sided tape to perimeter of the window sill.
Once attached you blow-dry the film to make it tight and see-through.
You want to make sure it is sealed all the way around the perimeter so that the air stuck between the plastic film in the window stays there.
We don’t want air transferring back-and-forth.
We want the air stuck between the plastic film and the window to act as our insulating barrier.
The “air pillow” that created between the plastic film and the window is what acts as the insulating zone. It isn’t the plastic film itself.
A window film that I have used many times is the one shown below by Duck. I have been happy with this product.
I usually purchase it at Wal-Mart, but our Wal-Mart has really changed lately so I don’t know if it’ll be available again this year .
I did find the Duck Window Kit on Amazon. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to help weatherproof your old windows.
Caulking around Window Sills
Another way to improve the efficiency of old windows is to make sure they are caulked around the edges….this is another way to stop drafts.
A sealant caulk fills the gaps and stops air transfer.
I usually use DAP silicone sealant (available from most hardware stores), but I discovered on Amazon that Gorilla brand now makes a caulk.
I like their glue, so if I need more silicone caulking I’ll give them a try next time.
Silicone caulk doesn’t shrink (or it’s not supposed to!) so it will continue to fill those gaps.
Below is an explanatory video on how to caulk around windows.
Blocking other sources of drafts
I haven’t done this yet, but companies – such as Duck – make insulating covers for your electrical outlets.
You remove the faceplate of your outlets or light switches and then place one of these flame-retardant insulators against the wall and replace the faceplate.
Expanding Foam to Fill Gaps
Another way to fill drafty holes and gaps is to use expanding foam.
In the picture below you’ll see “Great Stuff” expanding foam being used to seal rim joists in a basement. (You can probably buy this stuff at your local hardware store, but if can’t, here is a link to it on Amazon.)
(I am actually going to do this in my house too. I have cut the rigid foam insulation, I just haven’t put it in and sealed it yet.)
You do have to be aware of selecting the right expanding foam though. There are different levels of expansion.
Don’t buy a “large gap filler” if you only have little holes to fill. It may expand too much and either damage or shift things (possibly), or too much of the foam will be wasted because it’ll spew out of the hole during expansion.
In the product description of expanding foam product it will say what size gaps it is intended for.
If you want to see a video from “This Old House” on how to stop cold air leaks in winter, click the video below and you can watch it right here.
If you’re getting ready for winter remember to drain any garden hoses and put them away. Turn off any outdoor water faucets unless they have a frost-free bib.
Ensure any plumbing pipes are protected from freezing.
If they’re in a heated space they should be fine, but if in doubt you could wrap the pipes with a pipe-warming wrap such as this one I found on Amazon. They use electric warmers to keep the pipes from freezing.
In a couple of my old houses I have used a small-oiled filled electric heater to keep the basement pipes from freezing. I place it under the pipes, set it to low and the rising heat prevents the pipes from freezing.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick introduction to weatherproofing your home for winter.
If I have missed any weatherproofing tips please let me know by commenting below.