Keep your home healthy, toasty warm this winter
By Traci DeLore
With a few simple steps, you can keep your home — and yourself — healthy through the worst of winter weather.
Our homes can lose as much as 25-to-30 percent of heat to drafty doors and windows, said Scot Hayes, owner of New York Sash in Whitesboro. Often, people hang up heavy drapes or put a draft blocker along the door to keep the winter chill out, he said, but there are other ways to dodge the draft.
Preparation for winter should begin before winter even starts, Hayes said, with a thorough inspection of your home’s windows and doors. “Always make sure that you’ve checked your storm windows,” he said of older windows. “Make sure you switch out the screens for the storm windows before winter hits.”
Next, check around the window for any gaps, Hayes said. Fill them in with caulk. The goal is to eliminate any air leaks that will let the hot air out and the cold air in, he said. Cold drafts around windows will cause condensation, which can lead to mold. A well-sealed window will prevent this.
While drafts should be blocked, airflow inside the home is very important in winter and harder to achieve than in the summer when we can throw open a window. Simply keeping the drapes open can help the air flow through the house, he said. Dehumidifiers and ceiling fans are other great options to keep air flowing all winter long.
If it still feels chilly around the windows, Hayes advises against heavy winter drapes to block the cold air because it also blocks the sunlight. He recommends a do-it-yourself shrinkable window plastic kit to provide a draft barrier that still allows you to enjoy the sunlight.
“It does help your mood and it fights depression,” he said. Keep the blinds open to soak up all the benefits of the winter sun.
If your windows are in really bad shape, and your budget allows, Hayes said it’s even possible to have your old windows replaced in winter. This is worth considering if your windows are very old, he said, because newer window technology will provide an immediate benefit.
As for doors, they also need a good inspection before cold weather hits, Hayes said. “The door could be a place where you get drafts,” he said. Close the door and inspect all the edges for signs of daylight. If any daylight shows through, look into replacing the weather stripping around the door — another do-it-yourself project, Hayes said. The rubber sweep on the bottom of the door might also need replacing, he added.
For those who are a handy, they may want to remove the trim around the door and inspect the insulation in the walls surrounding the door. Over time, that insulation can deteriorate and need replacing.
Just like windows, doors can also be replaced in winter, he noted. The need for replacing might depend on the age of your home. Old wooden doors and windows are great technology when introduced, but are now outdated and pale in comparison to their modern counterparts, Hayes said.
A new double-paned window with an insulated frame and insulated glass will keep your energy dollars inside the house year round.