Winterization Basics

Some of the biggest heat losses in buildings are due to poor insulation and air leaks. The best way to identify these issues is to have a professional conduct a complete home energy audit. This type of inspection will look at a building as whole to identify a range of potential issues—large and small—related to heating, electricity, water use, and other energy uses. When possible, a home energy audit is a perfect place to start for diagnosing any issues with your home or building.

At the same time, individuals can still perform some smaller (but still very helpful!) winterization actions to reduce heat and energy losses without an energy audit taking place. These actions typically don’t address some major issues that may require professional contractors—such as installing insulation in attics or walls—but can still have significant benefits to making a home more cozy and comfy.

The local nonprofit New Power Tour has developed a 9-point energy efficiency protocol to address some of the biggest issues found in local homes and provides a model for a broader community engagement effort. These activities can be divided into three target areas, along with some additional opportunities that can be pursued if the time, interest, and budget allow. Based on New Power Tour’s experience, the typical cost of supplies for one home is about $180-200.

  • Caulking: Caulk windows, doors, baseboard trim, and wire inlets in attic and basement
  • Rim joist seal: Insulate rim joist with blue board and spray foam; treat basement windows and unused doors
  • Miscellaneous: Insulate water heater and hot water pipes; gasket wall outlets and light switches, install door treatments (sweeps and gaskets); check/replace furnace filter; vacuum dryer vent line
  • Additional opportunities: switch to LED lightbulbs; evaluate appliances; indoor storm window inserts

Based on New Power Tour’s experience, these activities are reasonably simple and can be performed by regular people with relatively little training or skill.

  • HEET’s Efficiency Challenge will lead you through the 9 winterization steps month-by-month so that you can make your home more warm and cozy.
  • HEET is also organizing volunteers to help community members in need. About a dozen volunteers, some trained and some not, can complete a weatherization in about 6 hours, or two afternoons.