Ask the Expert: What Should Homeowners Address to Weather a Home for Winter?
This “Ask the Expert” column features Jay Gregg, Director of Marketing for Pillar To Post.
Q:What are the most important issues homeowners should address—and correct—in order to successfully weather the winter in an older home?
A: Weathering the cold and dark winter months is a challenge for anyone, but can be especially difficult if you live in an older home. Older homes carry a lot of appeal; they often have architectural features that are lost to the ages, and are made out of sturdy and beautiful woods that can send an owner back in time each time they step through their front door. But older homes also come with problems, and a lot of them are brought to light during the cold winter months. These are common issues that should be addressed and corrected so that your focus is on friends, family and the season, and not home repairs.
Many older homes come with beautiful glasswork and even original window panes. Unfortunately, these drafty, single-pane windows allow heat to escape, wasting energy and money. While replacement windows can be expensive, they are often the most effective way to increase energy efficiency and comfort. The cost of replacing windows may seem daunting, but consider how much extra money you will save on winter heating and summer cooling with new, fully-insulated windows.
Insulation overall can be a problem in older homes as well, and inadequate insulation should be supplemented with additional insulation, particularly in attics, which are usually relatively easy to access. In order to ascertain how much insulation you need, check with local sources to determine if minimum insulation ratings (R-values) are required in your area for new homes and then meet or exceed those levels in your older home if you can.
Finally, outdated water pipes can cause huge problems if cold temperatures cause them to freeze or burst. Older pipes made of galvanized steel, iron or lead may need to be replaced if they are not in good condition. Good replacement options include copper or CPVC.
Assessing the correct repairs for your home can be a confusing process, so calling on a professional home inspector is another cost that pays for itself. It can be a huge weight off a homeowner’s shoulders to have a trained professional eye inspect your home and help you prioritize repairs and replacements.
Sometimes it’s not just the structural issues that get us down in winter months, but environmental issues, too. Early sunsets can make the winter seem dreary and long, so simple steps to brighten the interior of your home can go a long way toward lifting those winter blues. Add bright color to any room with pillow covers, flowers or indoor plants. Likewise, giving a small space like a powder or laundry room a fresh coat of paint in a cheerful color can help brighten an indoor space without becoming a major project. If you’ve got a green thumb, take this time to plan out your spring garden, reminding yourself of sunnier, longer days to come.
Maintaining your older home and making small interior changes to brighten the season will ensure a warm, cozy and cheerful winter in your older home.