Learn by Helping
Join COVER Home Repair for a volunteer weatherization project. Work with one of COVER’s weatherization experts to weatherize the home of a neighbor in need and learn skills to help you weatherize your own home.
How-To Videos and Tips from Efficiency Vermont
Whether you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, Efficiency Vermont has a series of Do-It-Yourself ideas, tips, and instructional videos on their website to get you started.
More Do-It-Yourself Ideas
Close interior doors and turn off the heat to any rooms that are unused during the winter. Make sure plumbing in those rooms does not freeze (you can try leaving the tap dripping slowly) and that moisture does not condense on cold wall surfaces.
Setting your thermostat back while you are sleeping and away from home will save about 1% on your fuel use for each degree set back for 8 hours a day. Using a programmable thermostat to do this will let you bring the heat back up to a comfortable temperature before you get up in the morning or return home. (Consult with your heating contractors as some heating sources, like heat pumps, work more efficiently at a steady state.)
Turn on your hot water and let it run for a couple of minutes. If it is too hot to hold your hand under the water, turn the thermostat on your hot water tank down to 120°. Doing this will ensure you’re not paying to overheat your water.
Find and seal air leaks. Air leakage is the greatest source of heat loss in most homes. Warm air rises and flows out openings high in the house, pulling cold air in through leaks low in the house. These leaks are easiest to find on cold days and are usually very inexpensive to repair. Feel for cool drafts coming in low areas – where the sill meets the foundation, through holes for pipes and wires, and around doors and windows. Hold something that smokes, like incense, and look for smoke being sucked out along potential openings high in the building – attic hatches, upper floor windows, ceiling lights and electric outlets, etc. Seal all high and low openings with weather stripping, spray foam, or caulk.
Weatherstrip all exterior doors, including attic hatch, bulkhead door and doors to cold cellars and crawl spaces. Check and replace worn out weather stripping. If your exterior doors jiggle when closed, move the striker/latch plate closer to the doorstop so the door closes snugly against the weather stripping. Or add new weather stripping that snugs up against the door.
Install storm windows and doors. Close and latch them tightly.
Permanently caulk-closed all leaky windows and exterior doors that you never open.
Close chimney and fireplace dampers when not in use. If chimney is unused, install an inflatable chimney pillow or caulked-in foam plug to better seal. Consider installing an energy-efficient wood stove insert in fireplace opening.
Weatherstrip and cover leaky windows with an interior plastic “storm” window that can be removed in the spring and reused next winter or left in place indefinitely. It will usually pay for itself in one year. For more information about interior storm windows, insulated curtains, and other window weatherization solutions, check out this Weatherizing Windows Guide.
Make sure all fan-driven exterior vents (dryer, stove, bathroom, etc.) have an exterior flap that closes tightly when the fan is off. Clear vent flaps of lint and other debris so they close tightly.
If you can feel any heat coming from your hot water tank or hot water pipes, cover them with an insulated tank wrap jacket or foam pipe insulation available at your local hardware store or Energy Federation Inc. (efi.org).
NOTE: Homes do require a certain amount of fresh air to keep occupants healthy and prevent back drafting of flue gases. Fresh air is best supplied through heat recover ventilators or powered and controlled fresh air vents. A blower door test can measure if you have adequate ventilation. For more information contact Vital Communities (802-291-9100 x109 or firstname.lastname@example.org).