How to protect your house against the polar vortex

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 12:03pm.

We've experienced some extreme cold spells these last two winters, and you've probably noticed it on your heating bills. Polar vortex is now a term well-recognized in every household, causing a shudder every it's mentioned. So how can you protect your home against the deep chill? Here are some helpful tips:

* If you live in an older home or just purchased one that's 20 years old or older, chances are your insulation has settled and your windows and doors might not be sealed as well as they should be. We recommend families sign up for an energy audit through their utility company, especially in homes that were built a couple of decades ago. Not only will the energy auditor investigate draft situations where cold air might be seeping into the home and warm air leaking out, but the auditor will also review how energy-efficient your appliances are  and if you are practicing the best water-saving measures in the home.

* Another option is to rent an infra-red camera from a home improvement store and conduct an investigation yourself. You will be able to see if cold air is concentrating around the openings of the house, as well as on the ceilings next to the attic. This information will tell you if more insulation is needed, or if there is an area where insulation may be missing.

* Caulking and weather-stripping - Home improvement stores have a large selection of foam and caulking products that can help you seal up the drafts in your home. Not only will these products keep your home warmer, they'll also protect it against many insect and critter invasions.

* Take a look at your icicles - The freeze-thaw cycle of winter can quickly cause damage to your roof, especially if you get a buildup of ice dams. If you notice an area where you have icicles hanging from the gutters or roof line, you may have a heat leak inside the house. This heat is warming up the roof, melting the snow, which then drips to the edge of the roof to refreeze. For ice-dam situations, you'll want to bring in an expert to remove the ice and provide you with advice on how to repair the situation.

Homes in Minnesota are built to handle the weather, but you'll still need to take action to protect your house against the cold. So take a look around, and you'll probably notice places where you can make changes to get your house nice and cozy against the chill.


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