Small Steps to a Warmer Winter Home
It’s winter. The signs in the Hudson Valley are quite obvious. Frozen, crunchy ground. Hats, boots, and mittens. Winter ales and eggnog. Snow days and snow plows. Crisp, starry nights. High energy bills. Oh no, high energy bills!
Well, here are a few tips to keep you from sitting in your home wearing fingerless gloves, with your bathrobe and fuzzy blanket wrapped around your work clothes. Winterizing your home is easy and holds immediate and tangible rewards. You will see results as soon as the next cold wind blows (and certainly when the next heating bill arrives).
To get started pick a nice bright day with a fair amount of wind and begin with an inspection of your doors and windows. Look for any cracks that you can see daylight through, and any feeling of wind. Do you see light or feel cold air along the bottom of your doors? If you feel any air moving around the edges of doors or windowsills, you’ll want self-adhesive weather stripping to run along doorframes and the bottom of window frames.
Check that all of your windows lock, and press gently on the glass to see if there is any movement. If the glass moves in the frame, it should be caulked again. This is easiest if done as a two-person project. One person can push the glass pane up and in, gently, to expose the cracks where the glass is able to rattle in the frame, while the other fills the gap with a caulking gun.
Even with solid caulk and weather stripping, windows will inevitably leak some heat. There are two proven methods to keeping the cold out. The least expensive way is plastic coverings (window lining kits can be found at most hardware stores), but this may not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic. In that case, consider using heavy window treatments. Heavy cloth drapes can greatly reduce the heat exchange between your home and the great outdoors, trapping heat and keeping the cold from entering your rooms.
Electric wall plugs and switches can allow cold air to enter the house, too. Install simple, precut outlet seals that fit behind the switch plate and prevent leaks. Finally, placing small rugs against the exterior doors will complete the anti-draft campaign.
All in all, this type of weatherizing for your home should take less than half a day, but the benefits are incredible and lasting. For more serious weatherizers—wrap plumbing pipes in exterior walls with insulating tape and check insulation of crawl spaces, attics, and doors leading to the basement.
If you are eligible, there are some substantial benefits that you can get for free through weatherization services. These are available to individuals who earn less than 60% of state median income and are either homeowners or renters, living in a mobile home, an apartment, or a single-family home.
These weatherization programs may provide some or all of the following services: weatherstripping and caulking; cleaning, testing, repairs, or replacement of heating systems; replacement or repair of storm windows; replacement or repair of broken windows and/or outside doors; addition of insulation to walls or ceilings; and, mitigation of health and safety concerns, including indoor air quality improvements, and more! To see if you are eligible call Ulster County Community Action Committee (845) 338-8750 and ask about their weatherization program.
Looking out of your window at the snowdrifts, and not feeling the cold bite of winter on your nose will reassure you that winterizing was worth the effort. If that doesn’t work, check your heating bill when it arrives and you’ll see the added value. It’s comforting to know that those dollars aren’t being tossed out the cracks in the window.