5 Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter
In Ottawa, and throughout eastern Ontario, winter is a seriously frigid season – with snowstorms, freezing rain, and often blizzard conditions. This isn’t a good time to be losing your indoor heat because of poor insulation or air leakage. The point is, when your home is energy efficient, you won’t lose valuable heat and your heating bill won’t be outrageous. With good advice from a local home energy professional, you can actually reduce your seasonal utility bills throughout winter.
Make sure you’re not losing heat through your attic and roof
When you lose indoor heat through the attic and roof, you’ll probably encounter “ice damming” around the edges of the roofline. These ice dams and icicles are a sure sign that your insulation is under-performing or that parts of the building envelope are suffering from air leakage.
Ice dams occur because warm indoor air creates a freezing/melting dynamic with the outdoor snow and ice. The solution here is straightforward – effective air sealing, high quality insulation, and an appropriate ventilation system that addresses the needs of the attic/roof cavity.
You can upgrade your windows from single-pane to double
If your windows are old, they are probably single-pane with low thermal resistance. As a result, they allow interior heat to escape, and in some cases they allow cold air to intrude. Today’s new window systems are specially designed to be energy efficient, with high thermal performance.
True, upgrading your windows to double-pane has an upfront cost investment. But the upgrade will save money in the long run – with improved energy efficiency your double-paned windows could reduce energy usage by 25%. That means having significant savings during the winter.
Your heating system (and AC) should be running efficiently
When a heating system is inefficient, it’s underperforming, overworked, and therefore consuming higher-than-normal energy. Proper regular maintenance is essential for peak performance, and replacing furnace filters is critical. Seasonally, an HVAC contractor should provide maintenance.
Conventionally, it’s best to inspect and fine-tune your heating system before the winter starts. It should be working efficiently at the very least, and problems should be addressed and remedied. Worst case (particularly with a professional recommendation) a new unit may be the answer.
Preventing heat from leaking through doors and windows
Proper window and door maintenance is an easy and simple way to prevent heat from escaping in the winter. Comprehensive caulking and weather-stripping will very effectively seal air leaks around your doors and windows. The key is using quality materials for long-term performance.
Doors and windows should be regularly checked and maintained to ensure efficient air sealing. For many homeowners, this could be a DIY project, again using quality products. However for the ultimate results (summer and winter) professional weatherproofing might be the best answer.
Upgrading insulation in the attic, basement, exterior walls
At some point, your home insulation may require upgrading and/or retrofitting. Yes – a DIY option could save you money in the short term, but for long-term benefits, its best to go with a professional. The point is, upgrading insulation is more than just topping up existing materials.
With insulation retrofits, a professional contractor will create a complete “system”, addressing air movement, moisture control, and proper ventilation. This is done with high quality products that effectively air seal the installation area and ensure peak performance for the installed insulation.
When it comes to keeping your home cozy, do it right the first time
Clearly, this guide is meant to be a starting point – with great ideas for winter home comfort. For someone who is handy, much can be achieved with a good set of tools and quality products from the local home centre. But it’s critical to do the work right. Anything short will create problems.
With a professional home energy contractor, you’re on the receiving end of both experience and expertise. Good contractors do it right the first time, without taking unnecessary shortcuts and by always addressing the “big picture”. Professionals will also provide you with 100% satisfaction.