Winterizing tips for your home |

Winterizing tips for your home

There are a lot of simple things a homeowner can do to prepare for winter and, not incidentally, save a few bucks. Some are pretty obvious, others less so.

As temperatures drop into the low teens this week, it should be obvious to make sure garden hoses are disconnected and swamp, or evaporative, coolers, if you have one, are shut down and their water lines drained.

Nick Tolotti, weatherization director at Citizens for Affordable Homes, says that’s not the end of the job with the swamp cooler. He points out the cooler represents about a foot-square hole in the ceiling or wall, which should at least be sealed with plastic wrap of some kind, and possibly plugged with a piece of foam as well, to reduce heat loss.

Tolotti said one of the cheapest improvements is to replace furnace filters often, which lets it work more efficiently, keeping the house warm for less. And the filters are cheap – often in a four-pack for less than $2.

For leaky windows, he said, home improvement centers sell shrink wrap kits for about $1.50 per window. The plastic seals the window, then you shrink it into place with the heat from a hair dryer.

Weather stripping, he said, is and inexpensive solution for leaky doors. He suggested a weather-stripping kit which can be installed with just a few basic tools and a bit of time.

A more serious cold-blockage method for windows, he said, is to buy foam hardboard insulation and cut it to fit.

“It darkens the room quite a bit, but really saves,” he said.

One place he said older homes often lose heat is from gaps in and around the sheet-metal ductwork beneath heat registers.

Use a good-quality heat-rated tape to seal any gaps between the register and the floor. If you’re able to crawl under the house, check the rest of the metal heating ducts and seal joints with tape there as well.

Heat loss around holes cut for plumbing under the sink can be fixed with caulking if the gap is small or a can of expanding foam if they’re larger.

Home-improvement stores also sell foam pads that fit behind light switches and electrical sockets, if you feel any draft coming through them.

Tolotti said it’s a myth that closing a room and shutting the heating duct into that space saves money. He said interior home walls aren’t insulated so the heat from other rooms just migrates to the closed room.

For those with a bit of money, he said, having insulation blown into the attic space pays for itself in a few years, as do programmable electronic thermostats which automatically lower and raise the house temperature, he said.

More tips and information are available from Sierra Pacific Power, which also makes Energy Wise kits available to homeowners in Northern Nevada.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.

Stay bundled up for a few more days

Today: Mostly sunny skies with patchy morning freezing fog. Highs 30-40. Northeast winds up to 10 mph shifting to the east in the afternoon.

Tonight: Mostly clear with lows 7-17 and light winds.

Thursday: Mostly sunny with highs 30-40 and light winds.

Thursday night: Mostly clear with lows 11-21 and north winds up to 10 mph in the evening becoming light.

Friday: Mostly sunny with highs 37-47.

Friday night: Mostly clear with lows 17-27.

Saturday through Sunday: Mostly clear. Highs 40 -50. Lows 17-27.

Sunday night and Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows 19-29. Highs 41-51.

Monday night and Tuesday: Mostly clear. Lows 20-30. Highs 41-51.

Source: National Weather Service, Reno