The old winter has been waiting patiently to cast us into a frozen land with few escapes. Even now he sends the hawk to remind us of what awaits us, cutting out our fall fashions and sending us out for warmer clothes. Putting on layers, keeping your head covered, even wearing boots is a knowledge everyone in the Midwest has heard since birth, but many ignore the greatest line of defense. “Your home!“
Are you ready?
On a cold winter night, a house should be, above all, warm. An early-season check-up can keep you from freezing while you dine because the oven died in the middle of the Arctic period. For less than $ 100 (the cost of a good dinner, much less if you have kids) you have the warmth of knowing that you are not facing an old winter with an oven that is not up to the challenge. A poorly maintained heater will cost more to heat your home and will never let you know there is a problem until you need it most.
Air leaks account for the highest percentage of heat loss, allowing heat to escape and Old Man Winter’s icy fingers to enter. Doors and windows are the biggest heat thieves in your home, by some accounts, more than 25% and that’s not counting children who sometimes forget to close the door. To start simple is to check the old or worn weather stripping around the doors and make sure the seals are still tight to block out the cold. Exterior door sills are often overlooked early just to have old towels and blankets rolled up and pushed against the bottom of the door during cold days. Less obvious is the sealant around doors and windows. When the sealant is cracked or missing, its valuable heat can escape and be replaced by those cold, uncomfortable areas. A more complicated and rarely thought of area is the outlets and switches on the exterior walls. The insulation is thinner if there is it behind these boxes, allowing the cold in another opportunity. There is a product that fits behind the switch or outlet covers and acts as a seal. Thresholds, weatherstripping, caulk, and other simple elements to stop the weather are available at most sawmills, big box homeowner stores (Menards, Home Depot, Lowes), or hardware stores and can be installed without special equipment or knowledge.
The next level of defense for windows and doors is shutters and shutters. These options offer a lower cost alternative to older homes rather than replacing older door or window units. Be careful at this point to evaluate old doors and / or windows as worth saving. If everything is falling apart in old units, you may just be throwing good money after bad, especially if you are not going to have savings from the effort and cost. Many times, in an effort to save money using old windows, people have been convinced to do too much work, resulting in costs equal to or greater than doing the project right.
A huge area of heat loss that is rarely considered but highly visible, especially after it snows, is the attic. If you’ve spent any time here in the Midwest, you’ve seen the roofs that have snow melting even in sub-zero hours. That’s what you spend on heating. Adding insulation to a minimum of 12 inches in attic spaces is one of the best investments any Midwestern can make. Another area to check for insulation that is often overlooked is the basement or crawl space joist ends and any walls above grade (ground level outside). Keeping the floors warm feels great on your feet.
No one can change the winter of the old man, but we can draw a line in the snow and leave it in the cold. So let the Hawk fly, because we know he will have to find someone else to steal his heat.
May the warmth of the holidays accompany you throughout the season.