(Family Features) Before blustery winter days arrive, there are plenty of home improvement projects contractors can tackle for homeowners. Many cooler weather projects focus on cost efficiency and sustainability, making the improvements all around smart investments.
Winter is the perfect time to implement upgrades that boost energy efficiency and lower heating bills, helping to manage household costs while improving comfort and enjoyment of the home. Consider these practical upgrade ideas.
Add insulation. Depending on the age of the home, improving the quality or increasing the volume of insulation can make a difference in the home’s energy efficiency. An expert can determine whether old insulation needs to be removed or new insulation should simply be added. A contractor can examine the home to determine where there may be gaps, as well as provide recommendations on the type and amount of insulation needed.
Seal air leaks. Air leaks can cause chilly drafts, contribute to frozen pipes and lead to energy loss. Eliminating leaks is an important aspect of winterizing any home, but not all leaks are easily identified. A skilled contractor can scour the home, checking unknown areas like basement through-wall penetrations, sill plates and the tops of concrete walls. Interior features like light receptacles and outlets are also common sources of air leakage. The caulking around windows and doors is another common culprit to be examined by an expert.
For most leaks, a solution like Great Stuff Pro™ Polyurethane Foam Sealant can seal gaps and cracks to help block air, moisture and pests from entering the home. In some cases, blocking drafty vents with cut pieces of foam board insulation or replacing seals will suffice to address leaks.
Install a programable thermostat. A programmable thermostat helps to regulate temperatures based on daily routines, so homeowners aren’t heating homes while no one is there to appreciate it. Experts can ensure electrical installation is done safely and provide guidance selecting a model that is appropriate for managing a home’s heating and cooling needs.
Replace weather stripping and seal trim. Over time and with frequent use, weather stripping breaks down and loses its shape, even becoming brittle. Cracked trim around doors and windows leads to air leaks, and sometimes homeowners think the only solution is replacing windows and doors, but they still end up with drafts. Contractors can periodically replace trim using foam sealant to help eliminate inevitable drafts and save homeowners money in the long run – a more cost-effective approach than paying for new windows and doors.
Prevent ice dams. Snow-covered roofs and freezing weather can lead to ice dams – thick ridges of solid ice that build up in gutters and along eaves. Dams can damage gutters and shingles and cause water to back up, which could force the water inside where it can peel paint, warp floors and lead to stained or sagging ceilings. To prevent damming, have a professional clear your gutters of leaves and debris ahead of the first snow and consider installing gutter guards to help prevent melting snow from refreezing in gutters.
For more tips and ideas on how to prepare homes for winter, visit GreatStuff.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images