With the days getting colder it's time to get your home winterized for the frosty months ahead. Most of the steps you'll need to take can be done on your own and by doing them you'll be able to save some money on your utility bills this winter.
How to Winterize Your Home For Winter
The home protects its household from the weather, so it's important to keep its systems intact. Here's how to take care of different elements of the house.
Put Your Ceiling Fans Into Reverse
Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to put the machine into reverse. This will make the blades run in a clockwise direction and will create an updraft, which will then push the heated air down from the ceiling. Hot air naturally rises so you'll be taking the hot air and circulating it through the room.
Give Your Heating System A Tune Up
Get your heat pump or furnace inspected by a technician to make sure that it's in good repair and clean. The tech will also be able to measure any leakage of carbon monoxide. It's important to book an appointment now before the cold weather really hits. These technicians can get booked up pretty quickly.
Preparing the Outside of Your Home For Winter
The exterior of the home suffers the worst of the elements when the weather gets cold. Because of that, it's important for homeowners to take good care of their home's exterior throughout the winter.
Apply Caulking Around Your Doors And Windows
Take a look at the gaps between your door and window frames. You may have to apply exterior caulk if the gaps are larger than the width of a penny. Use silicone caulk since it can withstand the heavy Calgary weather elements and won't shrink.
Clean Your Eavestroughs
Prevent ice dams from forming by cleaning out your eavestroughs early this year. We've already seen snow falling in September so we should be prepared for an early winter. If you are cleaning out your eavestroughs yourself, you should also take a look at your roof at the same time. If you see any shingles that look loose, you can hire a handyman or a roofer to fix them up before the snow falls.
Put Your Rake Away And Pull Out Your Lawnmower
Instead of breaking up your leaves try mowing them instead. According to recent studies, when you mow your leaves it will cut them into small pieces, which will decompose and then provide your lawn with nourishment during the winter. There are mulching blades available that can be added to lawn mowers.
Call In A Chimney Sweep
Before preparing your first fire for the winter, get your chimney checked out. This also applies to other heating appliances that use coal, wood, oil or gas. Cleaning your unit will help to prevent a chimney fire and will also ensure that carbon monoxide will be able to flow freely upward through the chimney.
Protect Your Patio Furniture
Decide whether you’ll need to store your outdoor furniture inside or whether it will have to be left protected outdoors during the cold weather. If you have to keep your furniture outside, invest in some heavy-duty covers that you can wrap tightly around the furniture. Remove any cushions before covering the furniture and bring them inside. You'll have options available when you look through the covers since some are made for individual furniture pieces while others will cover the entire set.
Set Up Your Garage And Basement Storage Space
Take a look at your basement and garage storage space to figure out whether you have enough room to store all of your seasonal items. If necessary, you can purchase storage modules or build shelves to create extra space. This is a project that you should be starting soon since the cold weather is right around the corner and you'll want to be prepared for it with all of your storage solutions in place.
Common Home Problems In Crazy Cold Weather
Living in Western Canada tends to make us a hardy bunch but new Canadians, visitors and those from warmer climates who are just here to work, play or go to school may be struggling when a deep freeze hits. And if you're a first-time home owner, you might not know how to cope.
Extremely harsh weather in the winter can be hard on you and the home in which you live. Check out these tips on how to prevent or deal with common problems in the home during a cold snap in Calgary.
Frozen Water Pipes
Pipes can often freeze anytime water isn’t regularly run through them. You could come home after a weekend away and turn on the tap only to find nothing is coming out. Sometimes pipes can freeze overnight especially in older homes that aren’t up to today’s building codes.
If it’s super cold and you’re concerned, keep the door on cabinets under the sink open to allow the warm room air to circulate. You can keep a tap running, ever so slowly (depending on how long you’ll be away. Overnight shouldn’t be so costly when you’re on a water metre).
If your pipes freeze, check the area where the water line comes into your home. The main shut off valve were the water comes in is well below ground but if the main line travels up an outside wall you could be in trouble when it hits minus 25. Blow torches aren’t recommended, but a hair dryer or space heater will do the trick. It might take half an hour to heat up the pipe but you want a slow thaw. A quick thaw might burst your pipe and you don’t want burst pipes. Keep a tap open while you’re doing this.
Keep Your Home Warm
If you’re reading this and shivering because your furnace or boiler is out, you will be happy to know that whatever heats your home should have been inspected before the Arctic air grabbed hold. This is when common problems can be detected like a cracked heat exchanger or a broken thermostat. Most furnace repair companies have a 24-hour emergency hotline.
If cold air is coming through your electrical boxes or light switches on outside walls, you can take the plate off and squirt foam insulation inside. This product should be available at any home centre or hardwood store.
If your windows are drafty get an insulation kit while you’re getting your spray foam. Fit a plastic sheet around your window and tape it up. It’s not much to look at but it does the trick.
Hot air rises, so if you have a ceiling fan you can run it in the winter but put it in reverse, which is clockwise. This will circulate that lovely warm air hanging out on the ceiling.
If you have a window sill or a drafty door and you’re fresh out of caulking or weather stripping, roll up a towel to block the cold air. Or a draft snake, but towels work well too.
Keep sidewalks around your home free of ice with an ice-repellent solution, often a spray, or good old-fashioned salt. The trouble with salt is, it won’t work in temperatures below minus 20 however even if it doesn’t melt ice it will act as grit under your feet, just like kitty litter or sand. It will hurt your grass and plants though, so don’t overuse it.
Safety in a Storm
We are lucky in Calgary that we have such excellent municipal maintenance crews. Once in a while we get a doozy of a storm and people are well and truly snowbound for a few days.
During the winter it pays to keep prepared by:
- Keeping non-perishable food on hand in case you can’t get to the store.
- Keep prescription medications filled.
- Keep your cell phone charged.
- Make sure your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide alarms are in good order.
- Check your fire extinguisher to make sure it hasn’t expired.
How to Stay Warm Without Cranking Up the Heat
Heating bills can get very high during the winter months. It seems that the furnace is constantly turning on and off on the coldest days while you're trying to stay warm inside the house. In order to save money on your heating bills, here are a few tips you can use to help you stay warm without constantly turning up the thermostat.
Raise Your Internal Body Heat
Some people get cold easier than others. In fact, some individuals feel like a human thermostat. At the slightest sign of a breeze their teeth start chattering while others don't seem to be bothered by the breeze at all. If you're this type of person, you'll find that hot foods and liquids at this time of the year can be your best friend. You'll get warmed up instantly so that the breeze just doesn't seem to have such an effect on you anymore. You can also eat spicier foods to raise your internal temperature or exercise.
If you're used to going barefoot around the house, try wearing some socks or slippers instead. When your feet get cold it can make the rest of your body feel cold. For instant relief you can soak your feet in a basin of hot water while watching your favorite television show.
Wear Extra Clothes
Don't walk around the house in shorts and a T-shirt in the winter months. Dress for the weather inside instead. Decide on a stable temperature that you'd like to keep the thermostat set at during the cold months and then dress appropriately. This will keep your heating bills at bay.
Cook More Often
Use this time of the year to your advantage and do some down-home cooking. You'll get double the use out of your oven since you'll be able to enjoy hot meals that keep you warm while the oven will also act as a heat source while it's turned on.
Make Use Of The Sun
Open as many blind and curtains as you can to allow the sunshine to stream in on sunny days. At night, closing the blinds and window coverings will help keep the heat in.
Use A Hot Water Bottle
A hot water bottle gets the job done. You can have one beside you when you're relaxing and take one or two with you to bed at night. Dogs and cats also become natural hot water bottles and can help you stay warm. There's nothing better than having a warm furry doggie or kitty by your side when you're feeling cold!
How Much is Wasted Heat Costing You?
As a Calgarian, you may be interested to know that the University of Calgary put a research team together to find out exactly how much wasted heat is being created in the city. A geography professor at the University by the name of Geoffrey Hay put together this project, which was developed due to his own personal concerns about his home.
Mr. Hay couldn't understand why his home was constantly cold so he used a thermal camera to track down the source of the heat loss. In his case it was due to heat escaping from a poorly caulked window and gaps on the edges of his doors.
The University of Calgary team is currently on a mission to map all of the homes in the city to show problematic sources of heat loss. The information is collected by a thermal imaging camera that is placed on board of a small plane. It's a very detailed mapping system that shows potential emissions from homes and suburbs.
So far single-family dwellings in the southwest and northwest sections of Calgary have been placed on the map, accounting for 38,000 homes. It's estimated that collectively these homes are losing about $4.9 million worth of heat annually according to the findings. It's interesting to note that some of the newer subdivisions are generally losing more heat than homes situated in some of the older Calgary communities.
It's an interesting study and one that hopefully will continue as long as more funding is contributed. In order to see for yourself what the findings are you can check out the website.
Prepare in Advance to Winterize Your Calgary Home
Winterizing a Calgary home is a process that should be handled thoroughly so no element is missed, as the cold can cost significant—and expensive—damage to a home. Reach out to a home maintenance professional to learn more about how to take care of a home in the winter months.