With or without a proper heating system, you need to winterize your house to prepare it for the stress of cold temperatures, high winds, snow, and ice.
The main objectives involve increasing the efficiency and the strength of your home.
Winterizing your home involves a lengthy checklist.
While extensive, if you get a head start in early fall and tackle the job little by little, you can get your home ready for harsh weather before the first snowstorm.
While not relying on heat saves money in utilities, winter comes every year, whether you have heat in your home or not.
Use these 20 items to properly winterize a house with no heat.
How To Winterize A House With No Heat (20 Items)
1. Add Insulation
Insulation absorbs cold air as it enters your home before it can drastically affect the comfortable temperature of your home.
Most homeowners apply insulation in the attic, basement, and walls, and they should inspect for and replace damaged insulation every 15 to 20 years.
Different Types Of Insulation
You can select the best insulation type for your specific project based on material and installation methods.
The three most popular insulation materials are as follows:
- Fiberglass: Low cost and easy to install but least effective and potentially dangerous to breathe.
- Cellulose: Medium cost, safe, spreads moisture instead of keeping it in one spot, and better for the environment.
- Foam: High cost but highly effective, safe, and resistant to water and mold.
Once you pick the material, you also need to select the method.
These are the most common ways to install insulation:
- Blow-In Insulation: Best for reaching awkward places but requires special equipment.
- Insulation Batts: Best for medium-size spaces, affordable, and easy to install.
- Rolled Insulation: Best for large areas, affordable, and easy to install.
- Spray Foam: Best for small areas, highly effective but expensive.
2. Clean Gutters
After we admire the vibrant colors of autumn leaves, they fall and land where the wind takes them.
Unfortunately, the leaves often land in your home’s gutters.
You need to clean the gutters to prevent clogs and possible damage to your home.
What Damage Can Clogged Gutters Cause?
The primary function of your gutters is to guide water, ice, hail, and debris away from the roof.
If the gutters get clogged with leaves, the water will remain on the roof.
Furthermore, the gutters can fill with water or ice themselves.
This can cause significant (and expensive) damage.
Some of the damage that can occur due to clogged gutters include:
- Damage to the integrity of the roof and possible leaks
- Warped gutters
- Mold growth
- Basement flooding
How Do I Clean My Gutters?
Step One: Wear proper shoes and gloves.
Step Two: Place your ladder on the side of the home strategically near the gutters.
Step Three: Climb the ladder up to the roof.
Step Four: Remove leaves and other debris from gutters, putting them into a yard bag.
Step Five: Repeat throughout fall as necessary, especially if you have trees near your home.
3. Use Thick Linens
The small details can make a big difference, including the fabric you use on a daily basis.
When the weather starts to change, switch out your light summer and spring linens for thicker materials that will provide more warmth when necessary.
Change out the sheets and blankets on all of the beds first.
You will also need to replace light throw blankets and thin rugs with thicker products.
The best fabrics for winter are:
4. Let The Sun Shine
When you open the window on a winter day, you see the beautiful snowy scenery outside.
You also allow the sun to enter your home, bringing the heat with it.
The sun still produces heat, even in winter.
Sun Damage In Your Home (And How To Prevent It)
The sun’s powerful rays can slowly damage some of the items in your home, especially leather furniture, rugs, paintings, and flooring.
These are the main ways the sun causes damage to the interior of your home:
- Fading the color of paintings and rugs
- Cracking leather
- Discoloring wooden floors
Once you know the possible damage, you can take actions to prevent it from happening.
For example, put a cover over leather furniture and artwork before opening the windows.
You can also apply a coating to the floor to reflect the sun’s rays.
Finally, design thoughtfully to avoid putting valuables in direct sunlight.
5. Install Efficient Windows And Doors
Windows are made of glass, which offers transparency but doesn’t insulate well.
Sixteen percent of your home’s heat loss escapes directly through the glass of your windows.
This only refers to heat escaping through the glass and doesn’t include leaks from the cracks around the windows.
Consider installing windows specifically designed for efficiency.
These windows may require a greater initial investment upfront, but they will contribute to increased comfort for years.
If new windows don’t fit into your budget, you have additional options:
- Apply plastic coating over the glass
- Seal edges with caulk
- Install storm windows
Many solid wood front doors don’t create a perfect seal or adequately prevent air from penetrating them.
Finally, wooden doors that include glass panels have lower efficiency levels.
If you like the look of glass in your front door, use Low-E glass panels.
To increase the efficiency of your front door, you have two options:
- Install new energy-efficient doors
- Apply weatherstripping
Energy-efficient doors are generally made of fiberglass or steel casing and a polyurethane foam insulation core.
Most models contain a magnetic strip on the bottom of the door to further increase efficiency compared to doors with gaps that create small air leaks at the bottom.
Weatherstripping is a filler that works well with moving objects, such as doors (as opposed to caulk which works better on immobile objects).
To apply weatherstripping to your front door, you will simply pick the right weatherstripping material and size, then place the weatherstripping around all sides of the door.
6. Makes Repairs To Roof
The whole purpose of your roof is to protect your family from the elements outside.
However, the regular beating the roof experiences from snow, ice, wind, hail, water, debris, tree branches, and other hazards take a toll.
Eventually, your roof will develop faulty shingles or water damage.
You need to take action to build the roof back to top durability so it can handle the winter season without incident.
Should I Repair Or Replace My Damaged Roof?
Minor damage on an asphalt shingle roof under 15 years old probably only requires a simple spot repair, such as repairing or replacing a shingle.
Before making repairs yourself, check the warranty to ensure you don’t void it by doing the work without the help of a professional.
However, any motivated beginner can learn to complete asphalt shingle spot repairs themselves.
You probably need to replace the entire roof if you notice extensive damage or the roof reaches a certain age.
When it reaches its life expectancy, it will require more and more repairs until the costs no longer make fiscal sense compared to the cost and benefits of a new roof.
Replacement Roof Materials Best For Winter
If you decide to replace your roof before winter, don’t assume you need to select asphalt shingles.
While asphalt shingles offer a wide variety of colors and designs at an affordable rate, slate and metal can provide better options for the winter.
Metal roofing competes closely with asphalt shingles in price, and it provides far more of the qualities that coincide with the goal of winterizing your homes, such as water resistance, fire resistance, durability, longevity, low maintenance, and increased efficiency.
However, metal roofing can get noisy during storms and doesn’t provide the same range of style options.
While significantly more expensive due to its weight, a slate roof will provide the best protection against the hard conditions of winter due to its highly impressive durability that makes it virtually impervious to snow, hail, water, and fire.
These roofs also last up to 100 years and look immensely more attractive than asphalt shingles and metal, especially considering they will stand out from the other roofs in the neighborhood.
7. Fix Cracks
As a homeowner, you may notice cracks in the walls of your home from time to time and casually make a mental note to look into it later.
When things get busy, fixing the crack may remain low on the priority list until it grows into something you can’t avoid any longer.
Unfortunately, when it gets to that point, the damages require much more expensive (and avoidable) repairs.
Cracks in your walls provide a way for cold winter temperatures to get into your house, making them especially noticeable in the winter.
They also increase vulnerability to water damage, pest infestation, and compromising the structural integrity of your home.
What Causes Cracks?
Cracks develop when the ground shifts, forcing the house to adjust.
Some of the reasons ground may shift include:
- Temperature/humidity change
- Foundation settling
- Traffic vibration
- Concrete erosion
- Clay shrinkage
How Do I Fix The Cracks In My Wall?
Before you start repairs, you need to estimate the width of the crack to choose the best solution.
Generally, you can quickly fix cracks under five millimeters with setting-type drywall mud or filler.
For larger cracks, hire a professional as the repair may require work to the foundation of your home.
Follow these steps to fix a minor crack in the wall:
Step One: Clean Surface Area
Step Two: Apply Filler or Drywall Mud
Step Three: Sand Surface Area
Step Four: Paint with Primer
Step Five: Paint Top Color
8. Install Storm Windows
Storm windows refer to material that provides additional protection to your window.
They are usually made of aluminum, plastic, or vinyl and come in a variety of styles.
These windows help weatherproof your home and increase your home’s efficiency levels, saving you money on your utility bills.
Some storm windows come in highly attractive designs, also enhancing the appearance of your home.
Customize your storm windows to your preference in the following areas:
- Interior vs. exterior
9. Decorate And Stock The Pantry With Warm Treats
Winterizing your home also includes setting the tone with the items you put inside of it, including the decorations and the foods and drinks you stock in the pantry.
When decorating your home for winter, start with holiday decorations for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in a cohesive design aesthetic that matches the rest of your home.
Decorations come in all shapes and sizes, including:
- Throw pillows
- Lawn ornaments
Add to the wintery feeling by stocking classic Christmas treats and drinks.
For treats, you can buy peppermints, gingerbread cookies, and pumpkin pie.
You can also make homemade dinners and warm soups.
For drinks, be sure to have on hand plenty of tea and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
10. Trim Tree Branches
The trees around your home provide shade, increase the appearance of your yard, and produce oxygen.
However, the branches can create a hazard if you don’t keep up on maintenance.
How Do I Trim My Tree Branches?
Step One: Gather Proper Materials
You will need the following materials to properly trim your trees:
- Safety Glasses
Step Two: Remove Dead Branches
Dead branches can look unappealing and get in your way.
You can identify dead branches by watching the leaves.
If the leaves don’t fall on a particular branch or two, that indicates dead branches.
You can also use the scratch test.
Simply scratch the branch to determine if it contains green, moist material or brown, dry material underneath.
Step Three: Remove Hazardous Branches
Hazardous branches are branches that present any sort of hazard to you or your home.
Branches are considered hazardous if they get too close to your house or hang so low that people can hurt themselves on them.
Step Four: Remove Overlapping Branches
Overlapping branches cause damage to each other over time, so it’s best to trim them as soon as you notice it starting to happen.
11. Perform Maintenance On Pipes
Water freezes at 32°F, causing it to expand by almost 10%.
While a seemingly inconsequential fact at first, this transformation can damage the plumbing in your home.
That’s why you need to perform maintenance on your pipes before winter hits.
What Damage Occurs Due To Frozen Water In Pipes?
When water freezes in your pipes, it will expand.
As it expands, it creates pressure.
The pipes withstand the pressure as much as possible until it causes your pipes to weaken.
When your pipes become weak, they may develop small breaks that lead to leaks in your home.
In some cases, the pressure will cause your pipes to burst, causing severe water damage that requires emergency attention.
How Do I Perform Maintenance On My Home’s Pipes?
Here are some of the items on the winter pipe checklist for every home:
- Check for damage/leaks
- Install heat cable
- Insulate your pipes
- Turn off outdoor water
12. Test Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Winter brings an increased risk of fire and gas leaks to your home.
This occurs due to people using their fireplaces or gas appliances more.
Human error, shoddy installation, poor ventilation, and product failure can lead to a serious incident.
However, properly functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can prevent a small incident from turning into a tragedy.
Test all of the fire and carbon monoxide detectors in your home to ensure they work.
Install new batteries if you can’t remember the last time you did that.
Finally, ensure you have coverage in all of the recommended areas in your home.
Where Should I Put Smoke Detectors?
You need enough smoke detectors to cover your whole home, but where do you put them?
Install smoke detectors in the following locations in your house:
- Every bedroom
- Every floor
- Every kitchen
- Every fireplace
When you install the smoke detectors, avoid putting them around windows or drafty areas and don’t paint them.
If possible, connect the smoke detectors together to ensure you hear the alarm from anywhere in the house.
13. Bring Yard Furniture/Decorations/Appliances Inside
You won’t use your yard much when the weather gets cold and windy, so you should bring yard artifacts that might blow away in the wind or experience water damage into the garage or properly secure them.
What Materials Make The Best Outdoor Furniture?
If you want outdoor furniture that you can leave outside over the winter, you need to buy furniture made for the challenge.
Some of the most popular outdoor furniture is made out of the following:
If you need durable upholstery, consider marine vinyl for something weather-resistant and long-lasting.
14. Prepare Wood-Burning Fireplace
Winter nights are perfect for relaxing next to a warm fireplace.
A wood-burning fireplace adds heat to the home on cold nights and creates the perfect spot in your home to read a book by the fire.
Before winter, prepare your wood-burning fireplace for increased use by doing the following steps:
Step One: Clean Chimney
Ensure your chimney gets a thorough cleaning to remove potentially dangerous creosote.
After you clean the chimney, tightly secure the chimney cap at the top.
Step Two: Inspect Fireplace
Perform a thorough inspection of the fireplace for damage or abnormalities, especially the gasket material and the damper.
Step Three: Clean Device
Clean your device by cleaning out any ash in the firebox, cleaning the blower, dusting, and wiping the entire unit down with an all-purpose cleaner.
Step Four: Buy and Store Wood
When you buy wood, stick to local products specifically marketed for use in fireplaces.
If you are choosing the type of wood, avoid softwood as it creates more toxins.
Store firewood outside at least 20 feet away from your home so that pests attracted to the wood don’t get inside.
Step Five: Test Fireplace
Finally, you can use your fireplace! Start it up to ensure everything works properly and stays lit.
Now that you have ignited the fire, enjoy!
15. Create Winter Emergency Kit
You and your family need to come together to talk about the proper steps to take in the case of an emergency before winter since the cold season can lead to additional emergencies.
Common emergencies that can occur in winter:
- Power failure
- Flooding/water damage
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Items You Need For A Winter Emergency
Create an emergency kit for your home with everything you need in the case of a power outage during a snowstorm.
Keep the kit in a safe place in your home not vulnerable to damage.
Items to include in your winter emergency kit:
- First Aid Kit
- Nonperishable Food
- Multipurpose Tool
16. Coat The Deck In Sealant
Before the snow falls onto your outdoor wood deck, coat it in a waterproof substance every year.
The three different options include:
- Vinyl Membrane
How Can I Waterproof My Deck From The Start?
To ensure your deck has high water resistance from its construction, use waterproof decking materials.
Waterproof decking materials:
Additionally, you can install a drainage system for your deck that will guide the water onto your lawn instead of the deck.
17. Treat Water Damage
If you notice water stains around your house, you probably have water damage.
Winter weather will only exacerbate the damage, so it’s in your best interest to fix the problem as soon as you spot it.
How Do I Treat Water Damage?
Step One: Resolve Source of Water Damage
First, you need to repair what caused the water damage in the first place.
Common causes of water damage include:
- High humidity levels
- Backed up drains
- High water temperature
- Damaged appliances
Step Two: Dry Affected Area
Dry the water damage thoroughly by dabbing the area with absorbent cloths.
Then, use an industrial fan and dehumidifier to eliminate excess moisture.
Step Three: Replace Damaged Material
You need to fully replace saturated material in your wall, ceiling, or floor as well as any personal items that experienced irreparable damage.
Step Four: Clean with Bleach
Use a mixture of bleach and water to clean the area.
The bleach kills organic growth, such as mold that may develop due to moisture.
Step Four: Coat Area with Primer
Prevent future damage by coating the space with a waterproof primer.
Step Five: Paint
Finally, repaint the area to match the rest of the room with a non-toxic paint.
Once the paint dries, you have fully repaired the water damage.
18. Caulk Window Gaps
Caulk is a waterproof filler applied with a caulk gun that works particularly well in small areas, such as around windows.
When caulking windows, you need to caulk both the interior and exterior of the window.
You will use silicone or latex caulk for indoor jobs and polyurethane caulk for outdoor jobs.
Follow these tips to caulk your windows.
Step One: Remove Old Caulk
Peel off the old caulk from the window until you remove all of the large pieces.
Then use a putty knife to remove the rest.
Step Two: Clean Surface
First, remove any debris around the window.
Then, you can wipe down the area with an all-purpose cleaner.
Step Three: Prepare Caulk Gun
Place the caulk in the caulk gun.
Once properly installed, open the caulk by cutting the edge at a 45° angle, making sure to pierce the seal.
Step Four: Caulk Around Each Side of Window
Use the caulk gun by placing the open tip at a window corner and smoothly apply in a line while avoiding moveable parts and weep holes.
Repeat the process on all four sides.
Step Five: Smooth Caulk
Use a smooth stick or a rag to smooth your caulk job to enhance the appearance.
Step Six: Let Caulk Dry
Caulk normally takes 24 hours to dry, but it can take longer in areas with high humidity.
19. Buy Winter Tools
After a heavy snowstorm, you will need to shovel your walkways and possibly break up some ice.
Make the job easy by buying the proper high-quality equipment in advance.
Winter tools you need on hand every season:
- Roof rake
20. Calculate Utility Bill Savings
Once you finish every item on your list, you can rest assured that many of your tasks increased the efficiency levels of your home, saving you money on current utility bills as well as repair/replacement expenses.
See how some of the ways winterizing your home can potentially save you money in energy usage:
- Energy-efficient windows: 12% savings
- Insulation: 15% savings
- Air leak coverage: 20% savings
- Pipe insulation: 3–5% energy savings