Click here to go back to the Main Tips page.


Cold Weather Tips


Caulking is considered the best thing since sliced bread. When all else fails, caulk it. This is true with gaps in siding, around windows and doors, foundations, masonry veneers and chimneys. Caulking not only keeps the heat in and the cold out, but closes up unsightly gaps preventing water and pests from entering the home and causing damage, as well.

A caulking gun and a few tubes of an exterior grade siliconized latex caulk are all you need. Many caulks containing silicone are not paintable, so be sure to use one that is if you plan to paint over it.

Weather-stripping around windows and doors is another draft-buster. Weather-stripping comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Vinyl, rubber, foam, felt and metal, to name a few. It can be attached with tacks, screws, adhesives and some come with peel and stick adhesive.

The vinyl bead contained in a rigid metal strip seems to work the best around doors. The rubber peal-and-stick products are easy to use and work well around windows.

Whatever product you decide to use, it's imperative that it fit snugly against the face of the window or door for maximum protection. Be prepared to adjust the weather-stripping periodically with the change of seasons and as the home shifts.

When weather-stripping a door, don't overlook the bottom. Worn thresholds and door bottoms should be repaired or replaced so that a tight seal occurs. If you can see light where the door meets the jamb, you have work to do.

Foam sealant is a popular alternative to caulking for large hard-to-fill gaps and penetrations. The foam sealant, which comes in a can under pressure, can be pumped into locations where electrical wires or plumbing pipes penetrate a wall. Be cautious not to use too much foam in one place as it will expand and can result in damage.

A lot of energy is lost through drafty light switches and electrical outlets. This can happen even if you've done the foam sealing at the top or bottom of the wall cavity where wires penetrate the framing.   A way to solve this is with foam gaskets which can be installed between the face of the box and the cover plate. Gaskets are inexpensive and come pre-cut for ease of installation. It takes just a minute or two per outlet.  BC Hydro sent out some to households in BC just 3 weeks ago. 

 To prevent water lines from freezing and keep hot water from cooling off rapidly, insulate hot and cold water lines. The best bet is to use prefabricated lengths of rigid foam pipe wrap which comes in standard lengths of about 8 to 10 feet and various sizes to fit different diameter pipes. Start at the location where the water supply enters the home and follow it through the attic, basement and crawl space. Cut to fit as necessary. Place the insulation over the pipe and secure it every 2 to 3 feet with silver duct tape. Wrap the joints with tape.

If you have a boiler that provides heat to a series of radiators, much of the heat is absorbed by the wall behind the radiator and rarely makes its way to the center of the room. A layer of heavy duty aluminum foil (shiny side out) applied to the wall immediately behind the radiator will reflect the heat out to those areas.

Single pane windows have a significant impact on energy loss and comfort. Storm windows or replacement windows are improvements, but can be expensive. A means of cutting down on cold drafty windows, aside from the caulking and weather-stripping, is dense window coverings. Drapes which are lined, heavy shades and wooden blinds or shutters are window coverings that will help.

Fireplaces are notoriously poor sources of heating for the home. Many studies demonstrate that only about ten percent of the potential heat is delivered to the home. When there is no fire burning, cold air enters the home through the chimney. This can be solved by simply closing the damper when the fireplace is not in use.

Fireplaces without dampers can be retrofitted with a damper. Check with a chimney sweep or fireplace shop.

Finally, if you don't have a set-back thermostat for your home heating system, get one. A set-back thermostat is a thermostat on a time clock that provides heat at times when it is most needed. For example, let's say that you arise in the morning at about 5:30 and you want the chill to be taken off before you shower. You set your thermostat to activate the furnace at 5:00 a.m., and you awake in a toasty home.