How to Make Your Home Cold Weather Resistant
October 31, 2016 by Bill Gassett
Saving Money Around Your Home
The sun feels so great on warm days that it is easy to forget what’s ahead. If you dread fall and winter because of the cold weather, then keep in mind now is the best time to formulate your strategy for warmth. Creating a plan to remedy last year’s cold house will make for a cozier winter environment. How to make your home cold weather resistant is certainly a topic many people like to research!
There are some easy do it yourself ideas for bringing in both brightness and heat that won’t take too much time or involve a whole-house remodel. When the afternoons start to get dark early, and the temperatures fall, you’ll be glad you set up your house for warmth. Take some of these steps now to be warmer this winter.
Before doing so, however, it may make sense to get a home energy audit to find out your home’s weak spots.
Making your home cold weather resistant will not only make you feel warmer but save some real money on your energy bills as well!
Up the Warmth
One of the best ways to keep warm is to use your fireplace for something more than a beautiful focal point. Lighting a fire whenever you’re home will help keep you toasty. Help turn that into a habit of making your fireplace easier to use.
A wood-burning fireplace is great to have, but there are drawbacks to using it daily. Hauling in wood, cleaning out ashes and vacuuming the mess you make are only part of the issue. The other concern is that you might need to run out for an errand, or get tired and want to go to bed— you can’t leave the fire burning. You have to wait until it burns out or extinguish it completely and light it again later.
Considering adding an electric fireplace insert to counter all of these issues. With an off and on switch, you can quickly run the fireplace to add extra heat without adding any extra work. You can leave the house or go to bed safely at any time by just turning it off.
It’s even possible to bring the warmth of an electric fireplace to a room that doesn’t have a fireplace at all. You can add an electric fireplace as easily as a new piece of furniture. They are sold in varying sizes to fit any space and have a surround and mantle to mimic the look of a traditional fireplace.
Keep the Heat
The more heat escapes (or, the more cold air finds its way in), the colder you are. Try to block all of the escape routes. Follow all of these time-tested energy saving tips especially for the winter months.
Start with some caulk. This is an easy-to-do project that pays off. On the exterior of your home, look for any gaps around window and door frames, then apply caulk to block the holes. Repeat the same process on the inside of your home. Check around each window and door. If you find you have a broken window, arrange to get it repaired or replaced before the weather turns cold.
Cold air can also come in under the door. There are easy-to-apply weather strips that adhere to the door or slide onto the bottom of the door. You can also apply stick-on weatherstripping all around the frame, or place a draft blocker or “snake” on the floor in front of the door.
Another spot that sometimes blasts cold air into your home is electrical outlets, especially those on exterior walls. Sometimes, during the winter, you can hold your hand over one and feel cold air coming inside. Purchase a pack of outlet insulation to block the cold. They are cut and shaped exactly like an outlet. All you have to do is unscrew the vent cover, place in the insulation and screw the lid back in place.
You should also check and make sure your vents are not blocked so that the heat can flow freely throughout your home. Move any furniture away from vents and make sure each vent is opened and hasn’t accidentally been shut. Close the vents and the doors to any unused rooms, so you are not heating an empty space.
Some of the biggest bangs for your buck will be adding additional insulation to your attic. Not only will this keep your home warmer, but it will also help prevent ice dams from forming on the outside of your house. Stopping ice dams in always a good thing as it can cause significant damage to your home!
Additionally, walls can be cold in the wintertime. If you move your furniture away from the wall, and perhaps group it closer to the fireplace, you’ll find it’s much warmer and more comfortable.
Getting dressed in layers is an old trick for keeping your body warm when the temperature dips, but did you know you can also dress your home in layers?
Cold and damp air comes up through your floor from the basement, crawl space or slab. Pretty soon, your feet are cold, and then your whole body is cold.
Begin with the floor. Add a layer of warmth by adding a plush rug to your living area. If you already have carpet, you can layer a rug right over the carpet to form a conversation area. If you have another flooring, such as hardwood, add a protective layer as well as another warmth layer by using a rug pad. Be sure to add throw rugs to the places you visit every day, such as at the kitchen sink, in front of the washer and dryer and the bathroom.
Continue layering your home by draping cozy blanket throws over chairs or the sofa. Family members can snuggle under them as they study or watch TV. You can also hang curtains on your windows. Keep them open during the day to let the bright sun in for warmth and light, but once it’s dark out, pull them closed to add another layer of insulation from the cold.
Add even more layers by changing out your bedding. Flannel sheets are perfect for chilly nights. Add a down comforter to help trap in warmth and fold an extra blanket on the end of your bed so if you’re cold at night, you can quickly pull it over you.
Homes are often dark on winter days. Even with the blinds up and the drapes are drawn back, there just isn’t enough sunlight to stream inside. The darker it is, the more dreary and cold you feel.
Brighten both your home and your mood by changing your lighting. You don’t need to replace lamps or light fixtures. You can just do an easy light-bulb change. Choose light-bulbs that are marked “daylight.” These bulbs help the lighting in your home better mimic natural sunlight.
If your home is still too dark, add some floor lamps or uplights in the corners of rooms. You can also hang small lights over artwork to highlight them. The overall effect brightens the room.
While you are putting daylight bulbs in your ceiling fixtures, make sure your ceiling fans are properly adjusted. In the winter, you’ll want to have the fan blade move clockwise. Since heat rises, the blades spinning clockwise will push the warm air back down.
Color influences how we feel. It can make us feel energetic or peaceful or happy. Likewise, it can make you feel warmer or cooler. If you have a room predominantly featuring a cool color like blue, purple or green, consider adding a warmer hue such as red, orange or yellow. Web MD has a great article on the Psychology of color and how it affects people day to day.
However, you don’t have to re-paint the entire room. You can get the desired effect by just painting one accent wall or using warm-colored accessories. Bright throw pillows, vases, and rugs can also perk up your mood in the winter. Pick up some flowers at the grocery store for your coffee table or kitchen island— both.
Be Smart About Energy
A programmable thermostat is a smart move toward being warmer. It lets you allocate your energy dollars where you need them. Heating the house during the day when no one is home can cost a pretty penny. You may try to counter that by being frugal at night and turning the heat down, even though you need it.
With a programmable thermostat, you can schedule temperatures to automatically keep the house cool during the day and warm it up before you get home. It can also lower the temperature for a cooler sleeping environment and raise it again in the early morning, so it is warm when you wake up.
You can also be smarter by having your heater professionally serviced while the weather is still warm. As soon as it is cold, the service companies are swamped— you’ll be warm and comfy knowing your maintenance was already performed. Be sure also to keep a stack of extra air filters at the house. Mark on your calendar to replace them regularly so your heater performs well throughout the cold season. See more of the best things to do to save energy in an old home.
If you are really energy conscious, you may want to think about adding solar panels to your home. Solar panels are an excellent way to capture the energy from the sun. The money saved in electricity can be used elsewhere to make your home more comfortable. Keep in mind that adding solar panels are a significant investment. While they offer an excellent return on investment as far as saving energy, don’t expect solar panels to dramatically increase home values.
Don’t Forget the Little Things
Once the cold weather arrives, you’ll have the major issues solved. Keep a few smaller things in mind to create a genuinely warm and cozy environment.
In the summer, we hate to cook and heat up the kitchen, but winter is the perfect time to turn on the oven. Build your menus around meals that heat up the kitchen, like baking chicken or putting on a simmering pot of soup.
It does help to dress in layers, so be sure to continue that practice for yourself. It’s also key to keeping your feet warm. Stash slippers by the front door so you can kick off icy or wet shoes and go right to warmth.