Winterizing your house (25 tips & checklist)

Winterize House

When fall is fast approaching, we can’t help but think of how cold it is going to be. The next thing to do would probably to find out how to winterize an occupied house? Of course, the main goal of this is to keep your home warm and save energy at the same time. After all, if you turn the heater on for a long time during Fall, you will spend a lot of money on electricity. Keep these things in mind during Fall:

Inside the house

  • Smoke detectors. Check the battery and that they all work. Test each one. This can’t be overstated and is often overlooked.
  • Dryer vent check, clean, seal & insulate. Pull out your dryer, disconnect the vent and remove it from your wall and dryer. Clean out the lint since it is a fire hazard.
    • Put the vent back on the dryer and wall
    • Insulate the line so it doesn’t get cold in the Winter
  • Water heater maintenance
    • Drain the water heater at the bottom with a drain hose. It usually can go into your sump pump if it is nearby.
    • Make sure the water heater is set to 120 degrees.
    • Water Heater Insulation Blanket,
  • Replace HVAC filter. Get your semi annual inspection done in the Fall, before the Winter temperatures set in. You don’t want to start up your furnace and discover that it doesn’t work!…oh, yeah…replace your filter! Get them here on Amazon.
  • Drain waterline to outside. You should have a water shut off valve inside your home. Turn it off so you can drain the water when you do your outside inspection.
  • Insulate exterior water valve. This will prevent it from freezing in the Winter, which could freeze your pipes inside your house, leading to burst pipes.
  • Get a Smart thermostat that gives your phones updates. The newer thermostats like Nest can communicate with your phone and let you know if there has been a power outage while you are away from home. This is a huge benefit in knowing and preventing problems before they become serious problems.
  • Basement & foundation inspection. Check for any big cracks and repair as necessary.
  • Attic seal check. A lot of hot air escapes your house through your attic hatch. You can put an insulating attic tent over the top of the opening. This has helped lower our electric bill.
  • Check doors for air leaks
  • Install a new door sweep if necessary
  • Clean door jam, remove dirt
  • Winterize windows
  • Ceiling fans – reverse direction by flipping the black switch near the top of the fan, above the blades.
  • Emergency preparedness. Have enough water, food and medicine in your house for at least 3 days. 7 days is best. When the ice storms hit this Winter (and it is expected to be a cold one!) you will be prepared.
  • Fireplace blanket. Great invention that stops hot air from escaping and cold air from coming inside your house. Get it here on Amazon.

Outside the house

  • Clean gutter & inspect roof
  • Chimney. Clean it out before you start to heat your house in the colder months. You will be preventing fires and saving your familes’ lives.
  • Trim back long branches next to your house or power lines. Use a pole saw.
  • Facet & hose inspection. Now you can drain the facet of the remaining water in the line (when you shut it off inside). Leave the facet open for 10 minutes so all the water drains out.
  • Disconnect the hose. Make sure water is drained from the hose and it is disconnected from the faucet. This will save your hose from getting damaged in the Winter
  • Clean gutter & inspect roof
  • Trim back long branches next to your house or power lines
  • Secure deck & patio equipment.
  • Winterize grill. Yes, you should clean your grill and get a grill cover.

Lower Your Energy Bill – get a Smart Thermostat

The latest thermostats adjust themselves according to the number of people that are currently in the house. For example, it makes the house cooler when nobody is in the house and warmer when a lot of people are in there. When this happens, you won’t have to turn on the heater. As a result, you will save money on the next electricity bill.

Lower the setting

The Department of Energy recommends lowering your thermostat setting to 68 degrees to save money. Just a few degrees can lower your bill when it is cold outside. Thus, why not lower the temperature of the thermostat? When you leave the house you can lower it to 64 degrees and then warm it back up an hour before you get home. Many newer thermostate have multiple settings on them which allow you to have multiple settings throughout the day.

What temperature do pipes freeze in a house?

You must be alarmed when the temperature reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit in your home. At this point, there is a possibility that the pipes will explode. When that happens, your home will get flooded. The other people living in your house may also get sick because it will get flooded with contaminated water. Also, the place is going to stink a lot. Thus, this is something you should keep an eye on.
Should you leave the heat on in an empty house during the winter?
The first thing to keep in mind is whether or not all the doors and windows are tightly shut. If they are, it would be wise to turn the heater on at a high temperature. When you come back, it will be very hot and you can afford to turn off the heater. Of course, you’re going to save energy when you’re not using the heater especially when you sleep at night.

How do you winterize a vacant house?

You can follow the same steps from above when winterizing a vacant house. Since you will not be in the house, you can further Winterize it compared to people who are living in an occupied house that is being Winterized. If you live in a house and want to Winterize it…you can’t turn down the furnace to 50. You would freeze your butt off!

These additional steps include:.

  1. Keep the furnace on at least 50.
  2. Turn off Main shut off valve. Another thing to do would be to turn off the water at the main switch. This would prevent the pipe from exploding in worst-case scenarios.
  3. Drain the water from the pipes. This will prevent them from freezing.
  4. Unplug the refrigerator. One way would be to plug off all the appliances when they are not in use. There is a possibility they will cause a fire if they are still plugged. Here are a few other things that you must do to winterize a vacant home:

How do you keep a vacant house’s pipes from freezing?

There are multiple things you can do to keep a vacant house from freezing in the Winter.

  1. Storm windows. One way to winterize pipes is to put storm windows and doors in your home. This would be true especially if the house is pretty old. It even adds more protection as it prevents pests from entering the home. It also provides gives you a feeling of security since fewer people will be able to see what’s going on inside the house. 
  2. Covering the water heater while not in use is important so it will last long. Remember, better do everything it takes to take care of your appliances. If you don’t take care of them then it will be only a matter of time before they break down. These things need your undivided attention and a heater blanked does not cost a lot of money anyway. 
  3. Clean the Home. Take all the trash including all the paper that is scattered around your home. How about preventing pests from crawling all over your kitchen sink, right? That can be achieved by taking out all the mess in the kitchen. Be sure to use the right all-purpose cleaners so the kitchen sink would also smell great. By putting rodent deterrent under your kitchen sink, you’re going to discourage them from getting near there. 
  4. Add heavy drapes and rugs. The purpose of rugs is not only to remove the feet off of your shoes. It also keeps your home warm so put up a lot of drapes and make sure they are very heavy. The same goes with the rugs as the design won’t matter but the weight does.
  5. Change the weatherstripping. Check out the doors and see if the light goes through them. If you see even a little bit of light then it is time to replace the weatherstripping. What’s great about it is that it won’t cost you much and it will save you a lot of money in terms of energy expenses. Remember how that small hole in your door can get a lot of air to get in no matter how small it is. Thus, better do something about it right away.

In conclusion, there are many things that can be done for your home to be warm during winter. There is no need to spend a lot of money on your electricity bill. There are things you can do where you don’t need to spend a single cent. It is better to be prepared before Fall even arrives. It will become even colder when it becomes Winter. Thus, you will use these strategies a lot. 

Whether your house is vacant or occupied, there are many things you can do to winterize it. This would lead to saving a lot of energy expenses. It is normal for the electricity bill to rise during Fall because of the massive use of the heater. Good thing, there are ways to lessen the use of that appliance. It would be terrible to rely on your heater a lot. Look around you and there are things you can fix in your home to prevent the house from getting cold. 

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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