Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winterize Your Home

The Merriam-Webster dictionary claims that the word "winterize" (verb: to make ready for winter or winter use and especially resistant or proof against winter weather) was first used in 1934. I bet it was a Canadian who said it! Today's winter temperatures may not be as low or last as long as they once did (thanks to our good friend, climate change), but since it's now consistently at or below zero overnight where I live, I've started thinking about about how best to keep my home warm without breaking the bank or the planet.

Snow in Montreal last December. It's coming back!
Luckily, you don't have to make any big purchases or embark on complicated renovation adventures to enjoy big energy savings this year. Unless you're just itching to do so, in which case I'd ask you to please contact me and I'll happily do the research to support your project! For the rest of us, consider these tips:

Turn your thermostat down! This is really simple and very effective, even if you're not willing to make a big change. To make things even easier, invest in a programmable thermostat and punch in the warmest temperature for your mornings, evenings, and weekends, program slightly cooler air for the hours you spend under a warm duvet, and save the uncomfortably cool setting for longer stays away from home.

Bulk up on insulation! As you probably remember from science class, hot air rises, so the first place you need to pad with the pink stuff (does it come in other colours these days?) is your attic. Other insulation-deprived areas are unfinished basement walls and crawlspaces.

Give your furnace some TLC! The filters on your furnace should be cleaned every few months to ensure optimal efficiency, and eventually they need to be replaced, too. If you want to go all out, call in an expert and have your furnace professionally serviced.

Share your blankets! Air ducts like to be cozy, too, so make sure all of the ones carrying hot air are insulated in areas where they pass through spaces you keep unheated in your home. You can do the same to your hot water heater. Don't forget the teddy bear and bedtime story...

Learn how to use a caulking gun! Sorry, I'm running out of fun titles. Applying weather-stripping or caulking to windows and doorways is another really inexpensive yet highly effective method of keeping cold air out of your home. Even if three out of the four sides of a window are well-sealed, you could be losing a lot of heat to the fourth.

Knit a snake! I'm not sure what these are supposed to be called, door runners maybe? Draft stoppers? Even without crafty skills you can avoid drafts under doorways with a towel, or, in a pinch, a couple of sweaters! There are also many sewing/knitting/crocheting guides online, if you're so inclined.

Dress your windows! In the world of shutters and drapes, there are more and less insulating ones. Look for blinds that trap air and curtains made of heavy fabrics. Remember to close all window coverings once it's dark out.

Wear an ugly sweater! You're at home, who's going to see you? Put on an extra layer of clothing rather than turning on an electric space heater. Heat yourself, not the room! Warm blankets and throws are not only cozy on the couch, they add style - not that you, the energy-saving superhero, need any.

Let it snow! This isn't a tip, and snow can lose its romanticism after the holidays are over, but why not keep your fingers crossed for a sustained cover of snow on your roof? Take advantage of Mother Nature's environmentally-friendly, local, sustainable, organic insulation.


Compiled from tips on the Live Green Toronto and Toronto Hydro websites, as well as a few of my own brain cells. You may also want to check out this interactive guide from CBC.

1 comment:

  1. I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.