How to winterize a house

Updated on October 11, 2023
4-minute read + video and checklist

How to winterize a house

Updated on October 11, 2023
4-minute read + video and checklist

Preparing your home for winter can protect it from the weather, keep things comfortable, and boost energy efficiency. Here are a few tips for winterizing your home:

Windows and doors

According to ENERGY STAR, windows and doors are responsible for up to 25% of all energy loss in your home! Simple maintenance can prevent that heat from escaping and keep those cold drafts from getting in. Here are a few ways you can make your windows and doors more efficient:  

Weather-stripping and caulking

Gaps and cracks around your window and door frames will let the heat escape. Check for air leaks, damaged caulking and weatherstripping. You can pick up caulking and different types of weather stripping at your local home and garden store, and it’s a generally easy DIY job. Sealing up those gaps will save you money this winter. 

Door sweeps

Check your doors to see if you can feel a draft underneath. Or you can get down on the floor and see if light is shining through. If there’s a gap, pick up a door sweep from the hardware store. They can close the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold.  It’s a simple install, will save you money on heating and cooling, and help keep dust and insects out, too!

Indoor plumbing

A frozen pipe is a homeowner’s nightmare. Uninsulated pipes can freeze, burst and cause significant water damage. Here is how you can reduce that risk and damage:

Insulate pipes.

Pipes in cold areas or outside walls are more susceptible to freezing in a cold snap. For example, pipes in basements, crawl spaces and under sinks are generally less heated than others. You can buy fitted pipe insulation at the home and garden store. It is easy to install and can help prevent those exposed pipes from freezing.

Keep out the cold.

Try to keep the cold out of areas with exposed plumbing, especially if you can’t access those pipes to put insulation on. Check the walls for cracks, especially around vents or where utilities go into the house, and seal those up.

If you’ve had issues with those pipes freezing, consider contacting an insulation contractor. They might be able to insulate those spaces to prevent it from happening again.  

Let the faucets drip.

If you’re worried about your plumbing freezing during a cold snap, open your faucets a little. A slow, steady drip can help release pressure in the system if an area starts to freeze. Plus, moving water is less likely to freeze.

Read more about how you can prepare your pipes for winter.  

Winter house scene
Winter house scene
Winter house scene

Outdoor plumbing

Winterizing your exterior plumbing is especially important if you have an irrigation system, pool or water features. Here are some tips:

Shut off water to exterior taps.

First, disconnect your garden hoses from outdoor faucets and store them in your shed or garage. If a water hose is connected to an exterior faucet and freezes, ice can go back into the pipe inside your house, causing the pipe to crack. Then, shut off the exterior water valve and open the faucet to drain any excess water.

Winterize your sprinkler system.

If you have an irrigation or sprinkler system, drain the water lines before winter. Many systems have an automatic or manual drain valve to help get that water out. Depending on your system, you might need to disconnect the pump and bring it inside for winter. If you’re unsure about this job, call in a professional. Many landscaping companies offer sprinkler system winterization services.

Take care of pools and water features.

If you have exterior water features, like a foundation or pond, you must drain them. If you’re unsure about winterizing your water feature, call in a pro for help!

For a swimming pool, how you winterize it will depend on whether your pool is in-ground or above-ground. Winterizing your pool will ensure water is cleared from the system and prevent expensive damage. Hiring a professional for this job might be wise, as they have the know-how and supplies to ensure it’s done right. To learn more, here are some helpful tips for winterizing an in-ground pool.

Program your thermostat.

It might be time to upgrade if you’re still using a manual thermostat! A programmable or smart thermostat allows you to control temperature and adjust for maximum energy savings. For example, you can program the temperature to lower when you’re away or asleep at night, so you’re not using energy when it isn’t needed. Natural Resources Canada gives some great tips on how to program your thermostat for energy savings.

Smart thermostats take temperature control to the next level! Smart thermostats will learn your daily habits and preferences, and automatically adjust the temperature in your home for energy efficiency. Plus, you can control your smart thermostat from anywhere in the world through your smart device. So, if you need to turn up the heat because you’re coming home from vacation a day early, it’s no problem!

Get help if you need it!

If you have questions or concerns about winterizing your home, contact a professional home services company.  They can help prepare your home for winter so it is protected, conserves energy, and keeps you warm and comfortable all winter.

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