How to Weatherize Your Home for Winter

No matter how much you may enjoy walking in a winter wonderland, the frosty elements can take a toll on your home, yard and utility bills. So before the temperature plummets and the snow starts falling, it’s important to take some time to weatherize your home for the winter months.

Many of these tasks come at little to no cost and only take a few minutes to complete, but a few will require you to invest some more time and money. Make a plan to begin weatherizing by mid-autumn to be sure you’re ready for the cold weather season!

Inspect Every Weather Strip

Your doors and windows are some of the most vulnerable spots in your home envelope, and over time, their weather seals can fail. Weather strips are the rubbery gaskets that seal the edges of doors and windows around the frames, and when they become flattened or cracked, they let cold winter air seep in.

Take time to carefully inspect the weather stripping on every window and door. In addition to looking for cracks, try the dollar bill test: place a dollar bill against the weather stripping in a window or door and close it. If you can pull the bill out easily, the stripping is due for replacement.

Self-adhesive weather stripping is easy to install and available at most hardware stores. You may also want to grab a putty or utility knife to help remove the old weather stripping, and a bottle of adhesive remover to clean your door and window frames before installing the new weather stripping.

Draft Detecting and Weather Proofing

While doors and windows are common sources of drafts, they’re not the only ones. If you have cracks in exterior walls, gaps around pipes or any other small openings to the outdoors, cold air is sure to come streaming in.

A thorough visual inspection of the inside of your home should help you spot these openings, but to be sure, consider investing in a draft detector. These small, inexpensive devices emit a smooth stream of odorless smoke, and as you slowly carry one through your home, drafts will interrupt the smoke stream. Just make sure you turn off your fans and HVAC system first. Once you track down the source of a draft, you can weather proof the openings using patching putty for fine cracks and spray foam insulation for larger gaps.

Plan for Upgrades

One of the most expensive weatherization tasks can also be one of the most effective: replacing old windows and doors. If your home has windows or doors that are in a state of disrepair or are outdated – especially if you have uninsulated single-pane windows – it may be time to consider an upgrade.

This is a high-involvement purchase that will require professional installation for most homeowners, so take your time as you read customer reviews and compare prices. High-quality weatherproof windows can cost between $300 and $700 each including installation, but over time, these upgrades can pay for themselves in reduced heating and cooling costs.

Tune Up Your Furnace

To prevent unexpected breakdowns, maximize energy efficiency and extend the life of your HVAC system, you should have your furnace tuned up by an HVAC professional every year. This service typically includes a thorough inspection and cleaning, fuel input calibration and lubrication of moving parts. It’s also a good opportunity to catch potential problems while they’re still small and inexpensive to fix.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

Much has changed in thermostat technology in recent years. The most significant advancement is the introduction of smart thermostats, which can be controlled and programmed with a smartphone app. This allows you to easily create intricate heating and cooling schedules that save you money while your home is unoccupied, and if you ever change your plans, you can set your thermostat remotely with a few quick taps. If your primary objective in weatherizing your home for winter is to save money, a smart thermostat is a smart investment.

Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction

Ceiling fans can save you money all year long. During hot weather, they should spin counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft, which helps you feel comfortable without excessive air conditioning. And in cold weather, they should spin clockwise to help redistribute warm air that collects near the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor enclosure that controls the direction.

Clean Your Chimney

If you have a functioning wood-burning fireplace, you should have it cleaned by a professional once a year. Wood fires lead to the accumulation of creosote on your chimney walls, and this poses a fire risk if left unchecked. It’s a good idea to schedule this service in the fall, before your first fire of the season, so that you can ensure your chimney is free of debris, birds' nests or other blockages. Chimney service often includes an inspection of the flue and other safety features.

Trim the Trees

Snow and ice accumulation can bring down weakened tree branches, so it’s a good idea to trim them back in the fall, especially if they extend over power lines. It’s best to let a qualified professional handle tree trimming whenever power lines are involved.

Close the Pool for Winter

If you have a swimming pool, closing it for the season is a multi-day process. Begin by removing any ladders and cleaning the pool by skimming and vacuuming. Disconnect all pool equipment like pumps, heaters and filters, and completely drain them of water before storing them for the winter. Use water alkalinity treatments, shock treatments and algaecide per the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare the water for winter, which can take a few days, before securely covering the pool for the season.

Winterize the Sprinkler System

Underground sprinkler systems must also be shut down for the winter to prevent damage. The most important step is to completely drain the pipe network of water, because freezing temperatures may cause the water to expand, potentially breaking pipes and joints. Open all drain caps to your sprinkler network and, if necessary, use an air compressor to blow remaining water out of the system. It’s also a good idea to remove the sprinkler heads, clean them and store them for the season.

Looking for Something Specific?

Select a category to find resources for topics that interest you.

Related Articles:
 What to Do Before, During and After a Power Outage
What to Do Before, During and After a Power Outage

With a little knowledge and preparation, you can protect yourself, your home and your belongings for power outages of any duration.

Read Article
 How to Choose a Generator for Your Home
How to Choose a Generator for Your Home

Power outages can be miserable, but with the right generator, you can keep your family safe and comfortable until power is restored. Learn how to choose the best generator for your home.

Read Article
Weatherize Your Home for Summer
Weatherize Your Home for Summer

The extreme heat of summer can really do a number on your energy bills. But if you’re able to invest a little time and money into weatherizing to keep your home cool, you can help yourself and your family remain comfortable at home while still saving energy.

Read Article

Energy Plans to Fit Your Lifestyle

NRG offers electricity and natural gas plans with perks like cash back, travel rewards and more, so you can find a plan that fits your home and family.

View Plans

How to Weatherize Your Home for Winter

No matter how much you may enjoy walking in a winter wonderland, the frosty elements can take a toll on your home, yard and utility bills. So before the temperature plummets and the snow starts falling, it’s important to take some time to weatherize your home for the winter months.

Many of these tasks come at little to no cost and only take a few minutes to complete, but a few will require you to invest some more time and money. Make a plan to begin weatherizing by mid-autumn to be sure you’re ready for the cold weather season!

Inspect Every Weather Strip

Your doors and windows are some of the most vulnerable spots in your home envelope, and over time, their weather seals can fail. Weather strips are the rubbery gaskets that seal the edges of doors and windows around the frames, and when they become flattened or cracked, they let cold winter air seep in.

Take time to carefully inspect the weather stripping on every window and door. In addition to looking for cracks, try the dollar bill test: place a dollar bill against the weather stripping in a window or door and close it. If you can pull the bill out easily, the stripping is due for replacement.

Self-adhesive weather stripping is easy to install and available at most hardware stores. You may also want to grab a putty or utility knife to help remove the old weather stripping, and a bottle of adhesive remover to clean your door and window frames before installing the new weather stripping.

Draft Detecting and Weather Proofing

While doors and windows are common sources of drafts, they’re not the only ones. If you have cracks in exterior walls, gaps around pipes or any other small openings to the outdoors, cold air is sure to come streaming in.

A thorough visual inspection of the inside of your home should help you spot these openings, but to be sure, consider investing in a draft detector. These small, inexpensive devices emit a smooth stream of odorless smoke, and as you slowly carry one through your home, drafts will interrupt the smoke stream. Just make sure you turn off your fans and HVAC system first. Once you track down the source of a draft, you can weather proof the openings using patching putty for fine cracks and spray foam insulation for larger gaps.

Plan for Upgrades

One of the most expensive weatherization tasks can also be one of the most effective: replacing old windows and doors. If your home has windows or doors that are in a state of disrepair or are outdated – especially if you have uninsulated single-pane windows – it may be time to consider an upgrade.

This is a high-involvement purchase that will require professional installation for most homeowners, so take your time as you read customer reviews and compare prices. High-quality weatherproof windows can cost between $300 and $700 each including installation, but over time, these upgrades can pay for themselves in reduced heating and cooling costs.

Tune Up Your Furnace

To prevent unexpected breakdowns, maximize energy efficiency and extend the life of your HVAC system, you should have your furnace tuned up by an HVAC professional every year. This service typically includes a thorough inspection and cleaning, fuel input calibration and lubrication of moving parts. It’s also a good opportunity to catch potential problems while they’re still small and inexpensive to fix.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

Much has changed in thermostat technology in recent years. The most significant advancement is the introduction of smart thermostats, which can be controlled and programmed with a smartphone app. This allows you to easily create intricate heating and cooling schedules that save you money while your home is unoccupied, and if you ever change your plans, you can set your thermostat remotely with a few quick taps. If your primary objective in weatherizing your home for winter is to save money, a smart thermostat is a smart investment.

Change Your Ceiling Fan Direction

Ceiling fans can save you money all year long. During hot weather, they should spin counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft, which helps you feel comfortable without excessive air conditioning. And in cold weather, they should spin clockwise to help redistribute warm air that collects near the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor enclosure that controls the direction.

Clean Your Chimney

If you have a functioning wood-burning fireplace, you should have it cleaned by a professional once a year. Wood fires lead to the accumulation of creosote on your chimney walls, and this poses a fire risk if left unchecked. It’s a good idea to schedule this service in the fall, before your first fire of the season, so that you can ensure your chimney is free of debris, birds' nests or other blockages. Chimney service often includes an inspection of the flue and other safety features.

Trim the Trees

Snow and ice accumulation can bring down weakened tree branches, so it’s a good idea to trim them back in the fall, especially if they extend over power lines. It’s best to let a qualified professional handle tree trimming whenever power lines are involved.

Close the Pool for Winter

If you have a swimming pool, closing it for the season is a multi-day process. Begin by removing any ladders and cleaning the pool by skimming and vacuuming. Disconnect all pool equipment like pumps, heaters and filters, and completely drain them of water before storing them for the winter. Use water alkalinity treatments, shock treatments and algaecide per the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare the water for winter, which can take a few days, before securely covering the pool for the season.

Winterize the Sprinkler System

Underground sprinkler systems must also be shut down for the winter to prevent damage. The most important step is to completely drain the pipe network of water, because freezing temperatures may cause the water to expand, potentially breaking pipes and joints. Open all drain caps to your sprinkler network and, if necessary, use an air compressor to blow remaining water out of the system. It’s also a good idea to remove the sprinkler heads, clean them and store them for the season.

Looking for Something Specific?

Select a category to find resources for topics that interest you.

Related Articles:
 What to Do Before, During and After a Power Outage
What to Do Before, During and After a Power Outage

With a little knowledge and preparation, you can protect yourself, your home and your belongings for power outages of any duration.

Read Article
 How to Choose a Generator for Your Home
How to Choose a Generator for Your Home

Power outages can be miserable, but with the right generator, you can keep your family safe and comfortable until power is restored. Learn how to choose the best generator for your home.

Read Article
Weatherize Your Home for Summer
Weatherize Your Home for Summer

The extreme heat of summer can really do a number on your energy bills. But if you’re able to invest a little time and money into weatherizing to keep your home cool, you can help yourself and your family remain comfortable at home while still saving energy.

Read Article

Energy Plans to Fit Your Lifestyle

NRG offers electricity and natural gas plans with perks like cash back, travel rewards and more, so you can find a plan that fits your home and family.

View Plans

Back To Top

Energy supply provided by Reliant Energy Northeast LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc.
©2022 NRG Energy, Inc. All rights reserved.