Weatherproofing Your Home: 6 Ways to Prepare for the Winter

What do Chicago and Game of Thrones have in common? Winter is coming and if you don’t start weatherproofing your home now, you might as well be living north of the wall.

All jokes aside, the last thing you want is for your home to be drafty this winter. You’ll end up spending more money on your heating bills to regulate your home’s temperature and it will still feel colder than you want.

Fret not! There are ways of preventing this from happening.

We’ll show you 6 ways to weatherproof your home so it’s more comfortable during Chicago’s worst time of year. Put away those extra blankets – you won’t be needing them anymore.

weatherproofing your home

1. Take Care of Your Windows

The first step to start weatherproofing your home is to start with your windows. Since your house has so many windows, you can be losing a lot of heat.

There are many ways heat can escape through your windows:

  • Poor caulking
  • Worn weatherstripping
  • Your current windows aren’t energy efficient
  • Seal failure – when the argon gas of a double pane window is leaking and it isn’t energy efficient anymore

We have a few solutions you should consider if your windows are in bad shape.

Replacement Vinyl Windows are Sure to do the Trick

Whether your current windows aren’t energy efficient or they’re experiencing seal failure, you may want to get replacement windows. This is the sure fire way to solve all of your problems.

So what’s your best option you ask?

Vinyl double pane windows of course! There are two panes of glass with argon gas in between. Since argon gas is denser than air, it’s harder to pass through. So you’ll have no heat leaving your home through these windows.

Can’t heat also escape through the frames?

Not if they’re insulated. Some vinyl windows have foam insulated frames. This prevents heat from escaping through the window frames.

Combined with the double pane, argon gas filled glass and you’ve got an impenetrable window.

Installation makes a huge difference with your windows too. If they’re not installed properly, it doesn’t matter how many panes of glass or how much foam insulation you have. There will be gaps that heat can escape through.

Your best bet is to hire a professional window installation company. Since they install windows day in and day out, they’ll make sure your replacement project is done quickly and correctly.

bedroom window overlooking snow covered trees

Can’t Get Replacement Windows? There are a Couple Temporary Fixes

Let’s says you aren’t in the market for new windows but want a more energy efficient home. Now what?

While it’s recommended to get replacement windows, you can temporarily try weatherproofing your home with storm windows or window film.

While they might do the job for a short period of time, you’re only prolonging the inevitable.

Storm windows are installed on the outside of your windows. They act similarly to a storm door – there’s an extra layer of insulation between your home and the outside.

This helps but isn’t a permanent solution. While storm windows will limit the amount of heat that’s lost, if your actual windows are having issues, you’ll still need to get replacements eventually.

Window film is of sheet a plastic that’s applied to the interior surface of your window. It tries to prevent heat from leaving through the glass. Since it’s such a thin piece of plastic, film can only do so much to improve your window’s energy efficiency.

While these solutions may help, you’re spending money on a temporary fix. The problems aren’t going away until your windows are replaced.

Make Sure the Window’s Caulk and Weatherstripping are Working Properly

Part of weatherproofing your home is making sure your window’s current caulk and weatherstripping is working properly. If it is, you shouldn’t feel any drafts coming from your windows.

If you do feel a draft coming in through your caulk, that means heat is escaping. You’ll want to remove the old caulk and reapply.

Also, the window trim should be tight to your the drywall. If not, add caulk there as well.

To apply new caulk to your windows, start by cutting the old caulk off with a knife (be careful not to scratch your windows). You can apply new caulk using a caulking gun.

If you need more help with caulking, Energy.gov has a great article that goes into further detail.

a guy caulking his window

You should also open your windows and make sure your weatherstripping isn’t worn down. Foam weatherstripping has a life expectancy of about 3 years so make sure you’re checking it frequently.

You can buy new weatherstripping at Home Depot.

Check out this video with more ways to weatherproof your windows:

2. Stop Heat From Escaping Through Your Walls and Ceiling

Did you know your walls and ceiling are huge contributors to your home’s heat loss? In fact, according to the Washington Post, 31% of your heat escapes through the ceiling or walls while 15% leaves through the attic.

That’s a lot of heat to lose. How can you stop it?

Start with attic insulation. Since heat rises, adding foam insulation in your attic will stop it in its tracks – trapping heat in your living space.

attic insulation

Don’t forget your walls:

Insulated vinyl siding helps prevent heat from escaping through your walls. It contains an insulated foam underneath the vinyl boards.

Now your walls and ceilings are air tight. Nothing’s getting out through there.

3. Drafty Doors Can be a Problem

Much like windows, your doors can let heat escape too. The same Washington Post article  says 11% of your home’s heat is lost through your doors.

There’s no sense in letting this happen. We have a few solutions that will help you improve the energy efficiency of your doors:

  • Getting a replacement door
  • Adding a storm door to your existing door
  • Put a draft stop on the bottom of your door

Time for a Replacement Door

beautiful entry doorThere’s one surefire way to solve your drafty door problem:

Have a professional company install a replacement door. That way you know you’ll have an energy efficient door that’s installed properly. No gaps, no drafts.

How do you know it’s time to replace your door?

There’s a test called the flame test. Light a match, candle or lighter and move it around the surface of your door. As soon as you see the flame flicker and wave, you know there’s a draft coming in through that part of your door.

Try a Storm Door

If you’re looking to protect your current exterior door, storm doors are the answer.

They have two jobs:

  • Create an additional barrier to prevent heat from escaping your home
  • Protect your exterior doors from Chicago’s harsh weather

A storm door is installed on the outside of your existing exterior door. Any heat that happens to get through your exterior door also has to get through your storm door as well.

Storm doors also block debris and precipitation from hitting your exterior doors. Since they’re installed on the outside, they cover your exterior door 100%. This is perfect for Chicago’s crazy winters – so much snow, hail and wind.

Draft Stops Prevent Air From Entering Under Your Door

What about under your door? Heat can escape through there!

That’s where draft stops come in handy. They lie on the floor in front of the inside of your door to prevent any drafts from getting in and heat from getting out. It’s small but it does help.

4. Remove Air Conditioning Units From Windows

What do you think happens when you open your windows in the winter? Bye bye heat!

It sounds like common sense, but some homeowners forget that their window needs to be open to house their air conditioning unit. No amount of insulation around the unit can negate the fact that you’re going to lose A LOT of heat.

The solution is simple:

Take the air conditioning unit out of your window until next summer. We know it’s heavy and cumbersome to take out. You’ll be thankful when you feel the difference in your home’s temperature and see the lower heating bills.

window unit air conditioner

5. Plug Up Your Outlets

It may seem like it’s not a big deal, but plugging up your outlets will help in weatherproofing your home. A total of 2% of your home’s heat loss comes from your electrical outlets. That adds up fast!

There are specific plugs you can get on Amazon for covering up your outlets. That way, no heat can escape through them.

They’re also great for parents with small children too!

6. Fireplaces Aren’t Always Hot

Everyone thinks a fireplace will warm up their home during the winter. Did you know it can also make it colder?

When your fireplace isn’t in use, it can account for 14% of your home’s air leakage. Hard to believe, right?

Close Your Flue

When you want to use your fireplace, you need to open the flue or you’ll trap all the smoke in your house.

Once you’re done, make sure it’s closed. Otherwise you’re inviting cold winter air into your home and allowing your heat to leave. It’s a simple way to save yourself a lot of cold nights at home.

Also, if your fireplace has doors, closing them won’t make a difference if the flue is open. Heat will still leak out.

Weatherproofing your Home with Chimney Balloons

What if you don’t have a flue?

A  chimney balloon can be inflated in your chimney to prevent heat from escaping. They’re super easy to install and take out.

Make sure you don’t use your fireplace with the balloon in your chimney.  Smoke can get stuck in your home or the balloon can pop.

Stay Warm This Winter by Weatherproofing Your Home

When weatherproofing your home, make sure you check these 6 areas:

  • Windows
  • Walls
  • Ceiling/attic
  • Doors
  • Outlets
  • Fireplace

By doing this, you’ll be able to survive the harsh Chicago winters with ease. Plus you’ll also lower your heating bill which usually sky rockets during the colder months.

When you’re ready for energy efficient replacement windows, siding and doors, get your free quote from Feldco. Just sit back and relax because we’ll make your home improvement project easy!

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