For the Winter:

Start with these five simple but impactful steps to weatherize your home in the winter:

  1. Obtain a winter tune-up for your home’s heating system.  This system is responsible for 40 – 45% of your home’s energy usage so making sure that it’s working properly will save you the most energy and money while also improving your home’s comfort and addressing possible safety concerns.  A typical tune-up will cost $100 or more and can pay for itself in two to three months if small or large improvements are made during the tune-up.
    • Remember: Use caution when working with an indoor portable heating unit.  Some of these heaters, particularly unvented gas heaters, can be dangerous if not used properly.
  2. Seal gaps, cracks and holes throughout your home.  Air leakage is a major cause of energy loss in a home, but is remarkably easy to fix.  Install or replace weatherstripping around doors and windows to ensure a tight seal.  Fill cracks in walls, around windows or doors, and anywhere else with caulking or expanding foam.  If there are sizeable holes in your walls, around piping, fireplaces or other parts of your home, use the proper materials to seal them up safely.  These steps will help keep heated air in, and cold air out!
    • Caution: Be careful when using a fireplace.  It likely has a hand-controlled damper that opens and closes when using or not using it.  Make sure the damper is open when using a fireplace and closed when not.  You should also have your fireplace inspected and/or cleaned before using it each season to avoid potential safety hazards.
  3. Program your home’s thermostat or watch it closely.  Your home’s heating system is likely controlled by a wall-mounted thermostat.  If it’s programmable, you can set the minimum temperature to a comfortable level while at home and have it automatically lower when away and come up by the time you get back.  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat or don’t have a set schedule, make sure to adjust your thermostat for the desired temperatures when you come and go so that your heating system isn’t running a lot while you’re gone.  At night, use blankets and lower your thermostat to save even more energy.
    • Caution: In addition to watching and controlling your home’s thermostat, consider installing and using a carbon monoxide or radon detector to make you aware of harmful gasses entering your home.
  4. Wrap water pipes and water heaters with insulation.  It takes electricity or gas to heat your water and send it through pipes in your home.  To save energy and provide more hot water to your home, use flexible foam pipe wrap on exterior pipes and wrap your water heater in a specially-made water heater blanket.
    • Caution: Be careful around hot pipes, damaged water lines and sources of water that are near electrical outlets and cords.  Consult a professional if needed.
  5. Clean and seal ductwork in your heating system.  Since your heating system can account for a large amount of your home’s winter or summer energy usage, it’s a good idea to clean and seal exposed ductwork throughout your home.  In some cases, such as a basement or some crawlspaces, this can be done easily as an advanced DIY project.  But, in other cases where the ductwork is hidden, hard to access or damaged, a professional should be hired to make the repairs.
    • Remember: Your clothes dryer also has a small duct system that can be cleaned  on your own to remove backups caused by hair, lint and debris.  Cleaning these small ducts will allow your clothes dryer to work better, saving energy and drying your clothes faster!

Once complete, move on to additional energy-saving activities that will save you energy and money in the winter while also providing greater comfort and safety:

  1. Replace incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs that can last up to 30 years!
  2. Add new insulation and/or replace existing insulation in your attic and exterior walls.
  3. Replace your heating and cooling system’s filters according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, which could be monthly, annually or in between.
  4. Run ceiling fans in reverse/clockwise to circulate warm air that has risen to the tops of rooms back down.
  5. Turning down the temperature on your water heater from 140 to 120 degrees can save 6 – 10 percent of your home’s water heating costs.
  6. Install energy monitors to identify energy “hogs” and “vampires” that waste energy when not in use or on standby.

Now that you’ve completed these steps, consult an Energy Auditor or Home Performance Contractor to help with more advanced weatherization activities including:

  1. Encapsulate and/or seal your crawlspace.
  2. Have a blower door test performed by a certified professional to identify air leaks to seal throughout your home.
  3. Consider replacing your windows if they are truly old and leaky.
    • But remember, replacing windows should be one of the last steps you take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
    • Simple window insulation kits like plastic sheathing or storm windows can help make leaky windows last longer and save energy.
  4. Upgrade your old heating and cooling system with a new one that is more energy efficient and automated.  Geothermal and mini-split systems use less energy than traditional systems.

For the Summer:

Many of the same steps you can take to weatherize your home for the winter also apply to preparations for the summer.  Start with these five simple but impactful steps to weatherize your home in the summer:

  1. Obtain a summer tune-up for your home’s cooling system.  This system is responsible for 40 – 45% of your home’s energy usage so making sure that it’s working properly will save you the most energy and money while also improving your home’s comfort and addressing possible safety concerns.  A typical tune-up will cost $100 or more and can pay for itself in two to three months if small or large improvements are made during the tune-up.
  2. Seal gaps, cracks and holes throughout your home.  Air leakage is a major cause of energy loss in a home, but is remarkably easy to fix.  Install or replace weatherstripping around doors and windows to ensure a tight seal.  Fill cracks in walls, around windows or doors, and anywhere else with caulking or expanding foam.  If there are sizeable holes in your walls, around piping, fireplaces or other parts of your home, use the proper materials to seal them up safely.  These steps will help keep heated air in, and cold air out!
  3. Program your home’s thermostat or watch it closely.  Your home’s cooling system is likely controlled by a wall-mounted thermostat.  If it’s programmable, you can set the minimum temperature to a comfortable level while at home and have it automatically raise when away and come down by the time you get back.  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat or don’t have a set schedule, make sure to adjust your thermostat for the desired temperatures when you come and go so that your cooling system isn’t running a lot while you’re gone.  Use ceiling fans to lower the time that your cooling system needs to run.
  4. Clean and seal ductwork in your cooling system.  Since your cooling system can account for a large amount of your home’s winter or summer energy usage, it’s a good idea to clean and seal exposed ductwork throughout your home.  In some cases, such as a basement or some crawlspaces, this can be done easily as an advanced DIY project.  But, in other cases where the ductwork is hidden, hard to access or damaged, a professional should be hired to make the repairs.
  5. Use window curtains or blinds to block out the sun.  The summer sun can raise the temperature inside your home through windows.  To prevent this, use curtains or blinds that block the sun to keep your home cool while inside or away.

Once complete, move on to additional energy-saving activities that will save you energy and money in the summer while also providing greater comfort and safety:

  1. Replace incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs that can last up to 30 years!
  2. Add new insulation and/or replace existing insulation in your attic and exterior walls.
  3. Replace your heating and cooling system’s filters according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule, which could be monthly, annually or in between.
  4. Install energy monitors to identify energy “hogs” and “vampires” that waste energy when not in use or on standby.

Now that you’ve completed these steps, consult an Energy Auditor or Home Performance Contractor to help with more advanced weatherization activities including:

  1. Encapsulate and/or seal your crawlspace.
  2. Have a blower door test performed by a certified professional to identify air leaks to seal throughout your home.
  3. Consider replacing your windows if they are truly old and leaky.
    • But remember, replacing windows should be one of the last steps you take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
    • Simple window insulation kits like plastic sheathing or storm windows can help make leaky windows last longer and save energy.
  4. Upgrade your old heating and cooling system with a new one that is more energy efficient and automated.  Geothermal and mini-split systems use less energy than traditional systems.