Thursday, November 02, 2006

Winterize your Home

Thursday Thirteen
13 ways to help winterize your home.
  1. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
  2. If you have a fireplace have the chimney or flu cleaned.
  3. Weather strip doors and windows. Make sure to replace all loose weather striping.
  4. vacuum and clean space heaters and vacuum refridgerator coils. This will get rid of collected dust and reduce the risk of fire and also help improve your power bill.
  5. Clean out your gutters.
  6. Reverse your ceiling fan. By reversing its direction from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable. (Here's how you know the fan is ready for winter: As you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise)
  7. Drain any water from your water hose and remove from water valve. Store the water hose in a storage area and cover the valve with a insulator (can be purchased at home improvement stores)
  8. Clean out the medicine cabinet. Check dates on medication and toss out expired meds and take stock of what you have. Make sure that you have cold medicine on hand for those just in case times.
  9. Check your attic insulation and the insulation under your house. Make sure that you have enough insulation to prevent cold air from creeping in.
  10. Pack up all those cute summer clothes and pull out and wash your winter clothes, jackets and winter blankets.
  11. Prepare an emergency kit. This is important especially if you live in areas that get heavy snow. Pack batteries, non-perishable food, water, small radio, flashlight.
  12. If you live in snow areas pull out your snow equipment and do routine maintenance to it. Change oil, belts if needed, and then store in a easy access area.
  13. Put mulch over outdoor flower beds and trim shrubbery.

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8 comments: 2 cents said...

A great list, although I don't think a lot of those really apply to us here in Texas

Brony said...

Great list. Looks like my house is pretty set.
Happy TT!

amy said...

ANother learning blog..Cool. Thanks

Mines up! Dont forget to vote on a name at

Kailani said...

I'm sure those are all great tips! I wish some of them applied here in Hawaii!

The Pink Diary

Mark said...

Good list - here is a related article that I wrote. Hope it is of interest to your readers!

How To Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter

By Mark D. Tyrol, P.E.

Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills.

Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Attic Stairs

When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.

Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.

Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

Whole House Fans and AC Returns

Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.

If attic access is inconvenient, or for AC returns, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter and AC return. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed.


Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers.

Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent.

A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? Hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.

Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. At Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, we have developed solutions to these and other energy-conservation related issues.

For more information on Battic Door’s energy conservation solutions and products, visit or send a S.A.S.E. to P.O. Box 15, Mansfield, MA 02048.

Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover and a fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit

Anonymous said...

Great list and tips! Happy TT!

Jenny Ryan said...

Thank you-that was really helpful, and reminded me of a few things we need to get done around here :)

Tug said...

REMEMBER to CLEAN your ceiling fan before switching directions - HA.

Happy TT!!

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