weatherize home for winterWinter weather may be beautiful, but it can cause a lot of headaches if you’re not careful. Falling temperatures can damage roofs and pipes, send utility costs soaring, and even put your health at risk. Keep your house and family safe by following these steps to weatherize your home for winter. By prepping a few critical areas, you won’t only stay warm; you’ll also save money.


Poorly insulated roofs are responsible for around a quarter of the heat loss in the average home. Insulation degrades over time, for a variety of reasons. Moisture is the leading culprit, but rodents, insects, mold, and mildew all take a toll as well. Whether you’ve lived in your house for one year or ten, it’s always worth inspecting your attic to make sure everything is sound. If you find worn or damaged insulation, there are three ways to replace it, all of which are surprisingly affordable.

  • Fiberglass or Mineral Batts. The cheapest and most common form of insulation. Batts are made from fiberglass or mineral wool, cut into strips, and fastened between the joists in your attic.
  • Rigid Foam Boards. Made from polyurethane, polystyrene, or polyiso, these closed-cell sheets are stronger and more durable than batts and have a higher R-value, which means they retain more heat.
  • Spray Foam. Fills cracks and gaps without ever losing its shape, completely blocking the movement of air through walls, floors, and ceiling cavities. Quick and easy to install, it helps prevent condensation and deters mold.

Insulating your roof not only saves energy, it also helps prevent ice dams. These form when heat from your attic melts the snow on your roof, which trickles down and turns to ice in your gutters. Cleaning your gutters allows this water to drain away, so it can’t freeze and cause damage, which is why you should always clean your gutters at the start of the season. Trimming trees around your home is another good idea. It helps prevent leaves from falling into your gutters, while also reducing the risk of frozen branches falling onto your roof and damaging your shingles or tiles.


Another major source of heat loss, windows need to be sealed and insulated to prevent cold air from seeping into your home. Cracks or gaps around the window frame are a major source of drafts. In fact, around 30 percent of the heat lost in the average home escapes through windows.

Fortunately, weatherizing windows is simple and inexpensive. Most drafts can be sealed with a little caulk. Check every window in your house. Drafts are especially easy to detect on windy days. However, if you’re having difficulty, place a lighted candle near the window in question. If the flame stays still, the window is fine. If it’s bent or curved, then there’s probably a draft.

For windows with moving or swinging panes, weatherstripping is the best solution. The most durable weatherstripping is made from foam, vinyl, metal, or silicone. Because windows vary in shape, weatherstripping is not one size fits all. In most cases, it has to be custom fit to each opening. Though it’s possible to weatherstrip windows on your own, a contractor may be faster and more effective.

Glass is a notoriously poor insulator. Adding a layer of window film will help minimize heat loss. Most film is transparent and unnoticeable when correctly installed. However, installing window film is harder than it looks, so for the best results, consult a professional.


Like windows, doors are often drafty. Cold air normally seeps in under the bottom rail or through cracks in the frame. Caulk and weatherstripping are the most effective remedies. Draft guards, which fit onto the bottom of the door, are also effective. Though all exterior doors should be weatherized, a few interior doors may benefit as well, if they open into uninsulated areas such as your garage or basement.


Bare pipes can freeze in cold weather. Burst pipes aren’t only inconvenient; they’re expensive to repair and can cause significant damage. Exposed piping is also a major source of energy loss. During cold months, pipes connected to your water heater lose a tremendous amount of heat to the surrounding air.

You don’t need to check every pipe to weatherize your home for winter, only ones in uninsulated areas (attic, basement, garage, etc.). Uncovered pipes should be wrapped in insulation and covered by a foam sleeve. Most foam and pipe wrap is self-adhesive, but if it’s not, use duct tape. Though there are plenty of contractors and handymen willing to help you identify and protect vulnerable pipes, most homeowners can tackle the project on their own with supplies purchased from their local hardware store.


During winter, no appliance is more critical to your well-being than your furnace. Furnace filters need to be changed every 3-6 months, depending on how often they’re run. A dirty filter impedes air flow and, instead of trapping dust, spreads it throughout your home. Filters are available at most hardware stores and can be easily replaced by homeowners.

Besides swapping out filters, homeowners also need to make sure their furnace receives regular maintenance. Ask an HVAC technician to inspect your furnace at least once a year for any potential service issues. They’ll check the motor, valves, burners, fans, and heat exchanger to make sure everything is operating properly and repair any damage they might find, to help avoid expensive breakdowns after cold weather sets in.

Though not necessary to run your furnace, installing a smart thermostat provides greater control over your heating system and helps manage your heating costs. It allows you to adjust your furnace and set heating schedules from anywhere with an internet connection. You can even review your overall energy consumption, to see where you can cut back.


A great supplemental heating system, fireplaces can also cause serious problems if they aren’t cleaned regularly. Dust, dirt, soot, and dander can build up and block the chimney, spreading dangerous fumes back into your home. Fireplaces have to be cleaned several times throughout the season, depending on what type of fuel they consume and how often they’re used.

  • Gas Fireplace. Shut off the gas and remove the logs and burner. Brush each part thoroughly, then vacuum out the ash and dust from the fireplace itself. Wipe down the pilot light, gas lines, and andirons. Clean the door with soap and water and polish any metal components before setting everything back.
  • Electric Fireplace. Remove the doors and dust the logs, stones, andirons, and hearth. Vacuum out the vents, wipe down the walls, polish the metal components, and clean the glass doors with soap and water.
  • Wood Fireplace. Shovel out any burnt wood and ash. Vacuum any remaining debris then scrub the walls with warm water and heavy-duty cleaner. Bricks around the fireplace should be cleaned with a pumice stone dipped in liquid soap. Wipe down the grate, doors, and andirons. Anything metal should be polished. If you can’t find a specialized cleaner, use white vinegar, olive oil, or baby oil instead.

While you’re at it, inspect the damper and gasket, to ensure the fireplace is properly sealed. Many gas and electric fireplaces use a blower to circulate warm air and this should be inspected as well. Finally, hire a professional to sweep out your chimney. They’ll not only clear out any obstructions; they’ll make sure it’s venting properly and identify any structural issues that might need your attention.

Protect Your Home with Agway

While you can weatherize your home for winter, there are some problems you can’t guard against. Wear and tear affect every part of your house, especially your furnace and air conditioner. Home insurance won’t protect you against this kind of damage, but we will.

Our EnergyGuardTM program covers your heating, cooling, and electrical systems.* When the need for repair occurs, we send a contractor out to your home and pay for all covered parts. There are no service fees or deductibles. Your coverage is included in your supply cost. Sign up today to start enjoying the benefits of EnergyGuardTM!

*Coverage depends on which commodity you purchase.