Winterize Your Home and Stay Healthy

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Weather forecasts for the upcoming winter seem to change daily. “Record-breaking temperatures,” "chilly temps and snow,” “storm warning,” “el Nino,” “la Nina” … But one fact remains crystal clear: winter is on its way. Which brings up a double-edged dilemma.

Winterizing your home often seems to conflict with the healthful lifestyle you aspire to -- potentially impairing your indoor air quality and increasing fire hazards and other safety issues. So how do you get your home ready for winter and at the same time keep yourself and your family healthy? Follow our 10 tips.

  1. Insulate the eco-friendly way. Here’s a basic principle for winterizing the house: Keep icy air out of your home by insulating your attic, basement, and/or crawlspace. Stay healthy by choosing insulation materials like cellulose, that don’t offgas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may be harmful to human health.

  2. Have your home heating system inspected. As winter approaches, make sure your furnace, gas fireplace, or other home heating system is running efficiently and safely. Call in an HVAC professional for a tuneup and any necessary repairs.

  3. Find a better furnace filter. Keep your furnace running efficiently while you breathe freer by always having a fresh furnace filter in place. Did you know you can install a permanent filter to eliminate wasteful disposables? Then just clean the filter once a month throughout the season of heavy furnace use. If you suffer from allergies, wear a breathing mask while doing so.

  4. Clean your ductwork. Winterize your home by having dust, pet hair, and mold removed from your ductwork. This keeps your HVAC system from circulating unhealthy contaminants together with comfortably warmed air.

  5. Warm your floors the green way. Rug or carpet installation will keep your floors warmer without ramping up your heating usage. Be sure to go for hypoallergenic carpet that’s free of VOCs. Vacuum frequently, using a HEPA filter. Secure any area rugs to prevent falls.

  6. Take good care of your chimney. Clean your flue of any creosote and debris before you start using your fireplace or woodstove this winter. This is important for 2 health-related reasons: 1) reducing fire hazard and 2) safeguarding indoor air quality. When you’re not using the chimney, stop icy drafts with a chimney balloon or chimney sheep.

  7. Improve your indoor air quality. With your home sealed up tight in winter, indoor air quality is likely to suffer … unless you take measures to ventilate your home. A heat recovery ventilation system can be a very practical tool to winterize your home in colder climates; it is designed to admit fresh air and exhaust stale indoor air without wasting heat.

  8. Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm. These 2 simple, affordable items are must-have safety devices for your home, especially in winter. If you already have them installed, good for you. Don’t just stop there, though – check the batteries today. Then test the unit itself and replace if necessary.

  9. Play it safe with a backup generator. Power outages can be disastrous in winter, particularly if your household includes cold-sensitive individuals such as small children, invalids, or elderly people. An important part of winterizing your house might be purchasing an electric generator to back up your power supply. Install outdoors, at least 20 feet away from the building.

  10. Have a fire safety plan. Crackling log fires, glowing candles, and holiday lights are all a part of winter cheer. Unfortunately, they are also winter fire hazards. Prepare your home for a safe and cozy season – make a fire safety plan with your family before an emergency happens. Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure you know exactly how to use it, fast and effectively.

Want help to winterize your home safely and healthfully? Hire a reliable handyman.

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated September 17, 2018.

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