10 Easy Ways to Winterize Your House or Investment Property

Written on December 8, 2016 by

Winterize HouseWinter is my least favorite season. It’s gray, dreary, and you can’t do much outside.

But for me, the worst part about winter is that maintenance costs go up on my investment properties. The good news is that most maintenance issues can be avoided if you properly winterize your house or investment property.

Here are 10 ways to winterize your house.

1. Clean Gutters

Cleaning gutters is one of the most important things you can do to winterize your property. If you don’t clean your gutters, rain can overflow and damage the foundation and the walls behind the gutters. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to avoid costly damages.

A couple of years ago, I lived in a three-story house on a steep hill. To say that it was challenging to clean the gutters is an understatement. To make matters worse, my wife hates me being on a ladder. So I found a great tool called the Gutter Clutter Buster.

Using this tool, I cleaned my gutters that were 14-feet high—without getting on a ladder! You simply connect this tool to a shop-vac, and it works great.

2. Add a Water Heater Blanket

Did you know that water heaters can account for up to 25% of your utility bill?

A great energy-efficient upgrade is to get a water heater blanket. This is one of the most simple upgrades you can make. You can get water heater blankets at any hardware store, and they cost approximately $25. But you will save approximately $30 a year.

3. Adjust Your Ceiling Fans

You can use a ceiling fan year-round by reversing the direction your blades spin, so the fan will warm the air. Most fans have a root switch to make changing the direction easy.

It’s possible to save about 15% in heating costs every winter by using your fan in this way.

4. Replace Air Filters

By regularly replacing your air filters, you can reduce the work your HVAC unit is doing and reduce your utility bill. You will also extend the life of your HVAC unit.

And you’ll improving the air quality in your house or investment property and reduce the probability of maintenance issues during the winter.

There are a lot of different filters out there. I recommend the cheap ones, which seem to work just fine. However, if you have allergies, you might want to invest in these expensive 3M filters, which catch anything over .1  micron.

5. Check Window Seals

My wife and I have lived in houses that were more than 100 years old for the majority of our 15 years of marriage. We’ve learned that leaky window seals are a common problem in older houses. I recommend pulling back the trim and caulking the area between the window and the frame. If you find rotten wood, use an epoxy wood filler to fix each spot.

6. Door Barriers

It might be a little tacky to have a towel or a blanket at the bottom of all your exterior doors. However, this makes a HUGE difference in lowering heating costs.

If you want to use something else, I recommend this magnetic door stopper from Amazon. It’s a good choice and can be easily removed.

7. Add Insulation

You might already have insulation in the attic. But a lot of insulation in attics are subpar, because many builders do the bare minimum to pass code requirements.

Here are some areas you may want to insulate:

  • Elbow walls—These types of walls are usually left uninsulated and can let cold air inside.
  • Added attic insulation—Even if you have insulation in the attic, you could add more and possibly save more.
  • Basement ceilings—Basements are usually left uninsulated, but a lot of cold air can get in through the floor and ceilings.

Here’s a helpful guide on insulation.

8. Get A Programmable Thermostat

Buying a programmable thermostat is a huge investment, as they typically cost at least twice as much as a regular thermostat. However, you can make that money back.

The Nest Thermostat costs around $200. However, when I started using one, my utility bill went down by about $200/month compared to the same period as last year. That’s a payback period of less than one year, so I highly recommend you invest in one.

9. Check for Exterior Cracks

A basic walk-around of your investment property or house can save you a lot of trouble. For example, woodpeckers and raccoons may have started to damage your property, something you can prevent if you do a walk-around inspection.

If you find any cracks, damage, or signs of wildlife, instead of  just fixing the damage with some caulk, I recommend replacing the trim or whatever has been damaged.

10. Add a Chimney Balloon

A chimney balloon can save you up to 30% on utility bills. And it makes your main living area more comfortable, as it reduces the downdraft. The balloon also keeps rodents and insects out.

BONUS: Get a Home Energy Audit

Some people need to pay for energy audits, but in other areas, home energy audits are free. A good audit provides you with actionable advice. Depending on the audit, you might be eligible for energy credits or reimbursements for energy upgrades you make to a property.

For instance, I upgraded my windows at one rental property and received an energy rebate.

To find out more about energy audits, check out the guides from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Summary

These actions will help you winterize your house or investment property to save you money this winter.

Did I leave something out, or do you disagree with something I wrote? Let me know in the comments!

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