| Environmental Columns

Getting your house ready for the winter

With the cold season right around the corner, here are a few tips to prepare your home so that you can reduce your energy consumption and save a few dollars. Not to mention that these gestures help reduce your ecological footprint!

Clear up the backyard

For many, preparing for winter begins in the backyard, where garden furniture needs to be stored in a shed or garage. Hoses also need to be put away and drained, while tightly shutting off the outdoor water valve to prevent your system from damage caused by freezing. It’s also a good idea to take a look around your property and cut down any branches that are too close to the house. By tending to these elements and your property, you’ll extend their lives, which will save you from having to replace them, and you’ll be making better use of your materials and resources.

Make sure the house is well insulated

Air and ventilation leaks can represent up to 25% of your home’s heat loss. Heating can account for up to 50% of your yearly electricity bill so plugging up leaks will help you reduce your bill and limit your energy consumption to what you really need.

First, make sure that the windows are tightly closed and locked to prevent possible heat loss. Do you still feel a draft? If so, you can use caulking and weather-stripping, which will provide additional insultation, prevent drafts and improve your comfort. And don’t forget, wall sockets can let air in! If needed, install insulating covers made specially for this purpose.

Do you want to install weather-stripping that is eco-friendly and durable? Consult this article in Écohabitation to find out more about the permanent alternative (article in French only).

There’s a different technique for doors. Check to see if the weather-stripping has to be replaced or is still efficient; proper weather-stripping should provide slight resistance when you close the door. To check its efficiency, close the door on a sheet of paper. If you’re able to easily remove the sheet, it’s time to replace the weather-stripping to ensure that the door is well sealed.

It’s also wise to clean or replace your air-exchange filter, if you have one, to ensure good air quality in your home. Take this opportunity to remove any dust on electric baseboard heaters to avoid bad odours or allergic reactions when turning on your heating system.

It’s always a good idea to air out your house on a daily basis by creating an air current for about five minutes. Humid air is more difficult to heat and can lead to mould. After all, what could be better than a breath of fresh air!

Exterior envelope

The roof and exterior siding play a role in insulating your home. This envelope must be as airtight as possible. It’s important to inspect your home for cracks, holes, shingles in need of replacing, etc., and to correct these flaws to ensure your home’s impermeability and to minimize heat loss.

At the same time, inspect your gutters. They must not be blocked so that runoff water can drain to the ground.

Lower the temperature

In a house, lowering the temperature by one degree Celsius can reduce your bill by 5 to 7%. The temperature remains comfortable and you reduce the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, which in turn reduces energy consumption.

When it’s very cold outside, reduce your energy consumption, as much as possible, during peak hours. For example, you can plan to use your electrical appliances and devices during the day or at night, when the electricity demand is not so high, and perform certain tasks during the day or later in the evening. Generally, Québec’s electricity consumption peaks in the morning, between 6 and 9 a.m., and in the evening, between 4 and 8 p.m.

If you’re well prepared, winter is a much more heart-warming experience!