As the weather turns cold and the days grow shorter, we look forward to spending more time inside our homes. The winter months provide the perfect opportunity to take on some home improvement projects to make our living spaces more comfortable and energy efficient. In this blog post, we will explore some great ideas for upgrades and enhancements that are well-suited for the colder seasons.
One of the best ways to prepare for winter is by improving the insulation in our homes. Areas that are vulnerable to cold air intrusion and heat loss, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces can benefit greatly from additional insulation.
- Adding insulation in the attic is often an effective project, as heat rises and leaks out from the attic if not properly insulated. Insulation materials such as fiberglass batts or loose-fill cellulose can be installed to recommended R-values for your region. Proper ventilation is key as well to prevent moisture build-up.
- The basement ceiling and crawl space walls also provide opportunity to better insulate and seal air leaks. Faced fiberglass batts or rigid foam boards can be used. Be sure to protect insulation from moisture.
- Having an energy audit performed can help determine where insulation improvements are most needed based on tests of air tightness, thermal imaging to reveal problem spots, and other diagnostic tools. Any recommended upgrades can pay for themselves over time in energy savings.
Air leaks throughout the home allow warm air to escape in winter, increasing heating bills and draftiness. Careful examination and sealing of gaps and penetrations can make a big difference.
- Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal gaps around doors, windows, pipes, wires, vents, and more. Foam sealants effectively block larger holes.
- Prevent attic air loss by sealing penetrations for ceiling light fixtures, fans, wiring, and plumbing vents. Cover attic hatches with insulated covers.
- Sealing the rim joists in basements and crawl spaces will help stop conditioned air from escaping through floor joints. Apply caulk or expanding spray foam.
- Have a professional perform blower door testing to precisely identify the location of leaks throughout the home so each one can be addressed.
New Doors and Windows
Since doors and windows are common sources of air leaks and heat transfer, replacing drafty models with new energy efficient versions can really cut down on drafts and winter energy costs.
- High performance triple or double pane windows with inert gas filled glazing spaces, warm edge spacers, and insulated frames provide excellent U-values for maximum efficiency. However, even replacing existing double pane windows with newer and better sealed models can help.
- Choose windows with low-emissivity coatings to further reduce heat transfer while still allowing light transmission. Optimize solar heat gain potential based on window orientation.
- Energy efficient doors, including storm doors, insulated exterior doors, and weatherstripping kits, reduce infiltration through entryways.
- Take advantage of rebates and tax credits offered for eligible window and door upgrades by researching local utility and state programs.
Heating System Upgrades
To better handle the heating demands of cold winters, upgrading to more efficient and capable heating equipment can pay dividends in warmth and energy savings.
- Replace an aging furnace with a new ENERGY STAR rated high efficiency model to save on monthly heating expenses. Variable speed and modulating compressors provide better temperature control and humidity removal.
- For warmer zones, installing a heat pump system provides both heating and cooling from one dual-mode unit. Cold climate heat pumps now work even in subzero outdoor conditions.
- Insulate exposed ductwork to deliver heated air more efficiently throughout the home while preventing energy losses enroute. Seal leaky joints in the duct system as well.
- Smart thermostats with WiFi connectivity and phone app control help optimize heating schedules for comfort and efficiency. Features like geofencing, equipment monitoring, and remote temperature adjustment add convenience as well.
Fireplaces boost aesthetics, comfort, and warmth during winter months. Enhancements like new wood stoves, hearth inserts, or gas log sets increase functionality and ambiance.
- High efficiency EPA certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts allow safe, clean burning while radiating substantial heat into the room. Look for large glass viewing areas for fire visualization.
- Ventless gas log sets or gas fireplace inserts transform traditional masonry fireplaces into convenient heat sources without the need to stock and haul firewood.
- Ensure proper ventilation and maintenance for fireplaces and wood stoves. Annual chimney inspections and cleaning maintain safety and efficiency.
A few outdoor upgrades prepare your landscape for harsh winter conditions while enhancing the aesthetic appeal.
- Plant wind and cold tolerant shrubs and trees to provide winter landscape interest while buffering homes from winter winds and storms. Evergreens like spruce and fir hold up well to snow and ice.
- Extend patio season by adding a fire pit or chiminea to provide warmth on crisp evenings. Choose durable materials like stone or masonry.
- Improve exterior lighting with weatherproof fixtures and lamps offering warm light to brighten winter darkness. Uplights on trees or architectural elements add drama.
- Insulate any water lines or valves that may be vulnerable to freezing. Perform irrigation winterization to protect systems from freeze damage.
By planning ahead and taking on key winter-ready home improvement projects, we can make our homes more comfortable during the coldest months while also increasing energy efficiency, savings on utility bills, aesthetic appeal, and resale value. Investing our time and budgets on targeted upgrades ultimately pays dividends in terms of warmth, ambiance, and peace of mind when frost settles in.
Contact Pinnacle Building Group to help you with your winter home improvement projects!