The trees are bare, frost has taken hold of your lawn and your neighbor has begun referencing “Bears weather” like it’s some type of magical force. We all know the drill by now: pull the sweaters out of storage, buy a new ice scraper for the car and prime the snowblower for battle. Now is also a good time to start winterizing your Chicago home against the impending Chicago winter.
Here are five easy home improvements that will help protect your property against the cold, wind and ice this winter…
1) Foundation Vents
In order to keep the cold air from turning your floors into an indoor ice rink make sure your vents are closed and sealed. Vents can be open during the spring and summer to allow cool air to dry out the floor boards but once the weather turns it is time to seal them up. There are a variety of reusable plastic and Styrofoam vent covers that will do the trick. A quick jaunt to the local hardware store and you’ll be good to go.
2) Heating System
Regardless of what heating system you use in your Chicago home (wood stove, furnace, boiler or heat pump) it’s imperative to perform a seasonal checkup. Many adjustments are minor, such as replacing filters and unclogging the blower assembly. In order to keep your feet warm and your utility bill low this winter, make sure to practice your due diligence when it comes to your heating system.
Ceiling insulation is the most cost efficient measure you can take to save energy and keep your Chicago home warm during the winter. Make sure to seal your attic floor prior to insulating. The rule of thumb with insulation is the more you use the better off you’ll be. ENERGY STAR recommendations for adding insulation in a wood-frame home in Chicago is an R-Value of R49-R60 for previously uninsulated attics and R38-R49 for attics with 3-4 inches of insulation. The R-Value gauges the ability of heat to pass through insulation—the higher the number the better the insulating ability.
4) Windows and Doors
Windows and doors have been constantly opened and closed during summer and fall and now it’s time to check on them. Make sure windows are properly closed and latched and that the weatherstripping hasn’t been damaged on doors. Remember weatherstripping can be easily and inexpensively replaced. Just because you have a window with damaged weatherstripping doesn’t necessarily mean the entire window has to be replaced.
5) Out with the Window Units
How quickly the hum of air conditioners is replaced by the grinding of snowblowers. With that said, don’t forget to remove that air conditioner unit from your window. An air conditioner is essentially an open tunnel with a bunch of fan blades. Air easily passes through even when the fan is on. Avoid an unexpected arctic blast by placing the unit in storage and sealing the window properly.
Once the leaves have been raked and gardens taken down, it’s time to focus on winterizing the house. Hopefully these tips will help you save money and keep your Chicago home warm during the winter months. Remember, if you wanted to watch the Bears game in the freezing cold you’d be at Soldier Field with your neighbor!