Cold and wind are the main enemies to defeat during the winter in North America. This battle will obviously only be effective if the house is able to defend itself. A small walk around the property allows us to discover any openings or gaps.
Remembering as much as possible of what was problematic during the last cold season, we must check the most sensitive points of the home.
For the same type of existing construction, a house with insulation that has been re-evaluated and enhanced is much easier to heat than another left in its original state. We quickly see the savings on our heating bill. But if one does not plan to invest in big projects, we can still take action to reduce energy expenditures. For example, add insulation to the ceiling, paying special attention to the ventilation of the attic; replace conifers that prevent the penetration of sunlight through the windows by deciduous trees (these also act as umbrellas in summer); use thick curtains in front of windows in the winter, leaving enough space between them and the glass to create an air flow, preventing the formation of ice and possible condensation; insulate electrical outlets and switches that often allow the passage of air.
A very simple action also includes embedding the lower part of the house (the foundation) with snow which then acts as insulation against the wind and cold.
Windows and doors are from the outset, parts of the house that are weak against the cold northern winds. They cannot be insulated like walls and ceilings. These openings may lose their primary functions: the windows are no longer vacuum sealed or the weather stripping has deteriorated. We could replace them as needed but as an interim measure we can always use weather stripping on film or a similar product, to stick on the perimeter of windows and doors that we do not want to open in winter.
It is also useful to pay particular attention to air extractors in the bathroom, the kitchen and the heat recovery ventilation system (HRV). In the first and second cases, make sure the check valve for air return is active and their opening is free from birds' nests. In the case of the HRV, check that the inlet and outlet are not obstructed and that the heart of the machine is cleaned and closed properly after maintenance.
Is the central heating system in good working order? We should inspect filters, the built-in humidifier, as well as the air inlets and outlets. There should be no restriction to the air passage. Depending on the type of unit, hire a specialist for inspection and to ensure the proper function.
Baseboards, convectors, and forced air units should be cleaned to remove any dust accumulation.
Do not forget to replace batteries in thermostats when required.