When the cold front comes in, the name of the game is to keep it out while reducing energy costs and avoiding major repair headaches once the ice thaws. Getting your home prepared for winter in Canada is a must. Here’s how:
According to Hydro One, up to 40 percent of home heat loss in winter is due to air leakage. If you were to add up all the cracks and leaks in the average Canadian home, it would be like having a hole in your wall the size of a basketball. Shocking, right? To deal with this, install or replace old weather-stripping and caulking around the house. Once all the doors and windows are sealed, plug the less obvious air leaks by finding hidden drafts using a lit stick of incense. Light the incense and pass it around baseboards, light fixtures, and electrical outlets, anywhere there may be an air leak. If the smoke wavers, that’s where you have a draft. You can also use a damp hand to locate leaks; any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
Now for the energy saving part. You might assume that fans are only useful in the summer, but they can also push hot air downward when running in reverse (read: running clockwise). Next, if you have a programmable thermostat, set it to turn on the heat when you’re heading home or when your kids are on their way back from school. There’s no need to pay for heating when no one is home.
Once or twice during winter months, replace or clean your furnace filters. We can’t stress this enough. Not only does it maintain healthier equipment, it can also lower your heating bill. Dirty furnace filters have a tendency to restrict air flow and increase energy use. Now is also the time to give your furnace and boiler a tune-up. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a snowstorm with a technical problem. By scheduling a professional cleaning and inspection each fall, you can be confident that your HVAC units won’t leak, produce inconsistent temperatures, or turn on and off unexpectedly. Just make sure when you’re looking for a technician or company that they’re qualified, licensed, and insured.
Before the first snowfall, finish up your winterization by protecting your outdoor air conditioner from falling leaves, snow, and ice. Cover it with a breathable material that doesn’t lock in moisture, which could be detrimental to the finish and inner components. Keep your gutters free of leaves, sticks, and other debris so that melting snow can flow freely, preventing ice dams that can cause water damage. Turn off the water to your outdoor garden hose spigots and drain the lines. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, prevent your basement from flooding by looking for pipes that aren’t insulated and run through unheated spaces and wrap them in insulation sleeves to prevent freezing and breakage.
There you have it. Once all these steps are complete, your home will be toasty, warm, and ready to take on the frostiest of winters. For a little extra romance as you keep out the cold, sit by the fireplace, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, and pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa.