Button Up Checklist

Ready for winter?

We’ve got your checklist.

Nothing beats a comprehensive weatherization job by an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor. Most Vermonters can now get 50% off weatherization projects (up to $4,000). The DIY projects below are the next best way to stop drafts this winter.

Clicking these arrows below will give you helpful details.

Stop Drafts at the Source

Complete three of these seven items and get up to $100

  • Build an air tight, well insulated attic hatch

    Attic hatches or attic pull-down stairs can be a huge source of heat loss in a home. They are often not air sealed, allowing air to transfer between the conditioned space and the attic. In addition, they are often constructed from thin wood or drywall, which does not prevent heat loss effectively. Build an air tight, well insulated attic hatch or attic pull-down stair by weather-stripping around the edges to create a tight seal, and attaching at least 6 inches of rigid insulation to the hatch panel.

    Learn how to seal an attic hatch

    Watch how to seal up and insulate your attic hatch and other areas of your house

  • Air seal and insulate the box sill and rim joists in your basement

    Basements or crawlspaces are often the second largest area of heat loss in your home (after the attic). Some of the leakiest parts of the basement are the box sills, sill plates, and rim joists. The sill plates and rim joists sit on the foundation wall. Air leaks through the gaps and cracks all the way along your foundation wall. Your rim joist or box sills may already be insulated with fiberglass; however, fiberglass does not stop air leaks effectively. If you have fiberglass in the box sill or rim joist, pull it out, then air seal and re-insulate.

    Watch how to insulate your basement

  • Build an air tight, well insulated bulkhead door in your basement

    A bulkhead door is one of the leakiest parts of a basement, and in many cases, is built from a simple piece of plywood that doesn’t close tightly. Install weather stripping around the edges and insulate the door with at least 1.5 inches of rigid insulation. Alternatively, you can replace it with a well-insulated exterior door.

    Watch tips on insulating your basement

  • Spot air seal and insulate your attic

    Attics are often the single largest source of heat loss in a home. Heat loss is due to both air leakage through gaps and holes, as well as lack of sufficient insulation.

    Sealing air leaks with a professional spray foam gun is highly effective. Once air leaks have been sealed (common ones include openings made for plumbing and electrical lines), then additional insulation can be added.

    If you heat or cool your home with forced air, you could be losing heat through your ducts – seal the ductwork and any uninsulated crawlspaces.

    Watch how to air seal and insulate your attic

  • Install a new window, Low-E storm window or Low-E window panel

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, leaky windows can account for 10–25% of your heating bill. If your windows are in fair shape—or if you’re on a tight budget—adding storm windows is far more affordable than replacing the whole window. Storm windows keep outside air from seeping in and protect your windows and doors from storm damage. They are most often installed on the exterior of your existing windows, but you can opt for interior storm windows as well.

    Watch how to install storm windows

  • Weatherize windows

    To prevent drafts from windows, start by fixing some common sources of air leaks: add caulking around window casings, fill in unused pulley cavities, and replace cracked panes and glazing compound (be careful not to caulk the window shut). Then add weather-stripping around the edges.

    Get started with air sealing

  • Weatherize exterior doors

    Exterior doors in your home can allow air leaks even when they are closed. Use clear acrylic caulk to seal air that is leaking around the frame of the door, and install a door sweep at the bottom to prevent strong drafts. Then weather strip the door to create a tight seal.

    Get started with air sealing

Get the most savings

  • Get an energy consultation from an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor

    Comprehensive insulation projects done by a professional can save up to $800 annually on heating costs, and are a great way to improve the comfort, health, and efficiency of your home (annual savings based on Home Performance with ENERGY STAR projects as of January, 2017).

    Get up to $2000 back

    Learn about income based assistance

    There are a variety of walk-through and audit services available, depending on where you live, the fuel you use, and your income level. If you are a Vermont Gas customer, check out their audit program.


Simple Savings Around the House

  • Turn down your thermostat, or install a smart thermostat

    For each degree you turn the thermostat down in the winter (around the clock), you save about 2% on your heating bill. Programmable thermostats adjust your heating and cooling set-points for you (but only if you program them properly). Smart thermostats self-optimize based on your behavior and automate for greater energy savings. They can also be adjusted via smartphone, allowing for a high degree of user control. Non-programmable thermostats are not recommended because they require in-the-moment action to adjust temperatures. 

    Details on thermostats

  • Install outlet and switch-plate foam gaskets and outlet safety plugs

    If you place your hand over your electrical outlets in the winter on a windy day, you can feel cold air blowing through them. Foam gaskets seal off the wall cavity behind the outlets and switch plates facing the exterior of the house from the living space. The plugs reduce leakage through unused outlets. You can purchase foam gaskets and plugs from most hardware and building supply stores.

    Find a retailer

  • Make sure window sash locks are working and locked

    Locking the window sash lock will help ensure that the window is completely closed, reducing air leakage. If you find a window without a sash lock, they can be easily purchased at your local hardware or building supply store.

  • Seal up the fireplace chimney

    A wood-burning fireplace adds beauty and a comfortable atmosphere, but it is not a very efficient way to heat your home, and can actually increase your winter energy bills. If you own a fireplace, close the damper when there isn't a fire. In addition, consider installing flue sealers – which are removable stoppers that prevent air from escaping through the chimney. These inflatable devices – made from heavy-gauge plastic – are inexpensive, and easy to install and remove.

  • Remove or seal your window AC unit

    Knowing how to insulate a window AC unit for the winter is one of best things one can do to keep heating costs under control once the thermometer starts to dip. With window air conditioning units, there are two options when it comes to weatherizing the home: cover and insulate around the unit or remove the unit entirely and seal the window for the winter.

    Guide to sealing your window AC unit

Check Your Equipment

  • Get a tune-up on your boiler or furnace

    A pre-winter tune-up helps your furnace or boiler run cleaner, more efficiently and last longer. For fuel oil systems, make sure you get an inspection and tune-up on an annual basis. For gas-fired (propane or natural gas)‏ systems, every two years will suffice. Talk with your fuel provider about getting a tune-up.

  • Change the filter on your furnace every 3-4 months

    Clean or replace your furnace, heat pump, and ventilation system filters every few months to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency. Consult the manual for the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.

  • Make sure cold air returns for forced-air systems are free from blockages

    Don’t block the heat or the cold air returns from a forced-air system. Furnaces need adequate supplies of cold air in order to operate efficiently. For radiators or baseboard heaters, be sure to vacuum or dust them regularly and remove furniture, carpets, or drapes that cover them.

Don't Forget Water Heating

  • Insulate pipes from the hot water heater

    Insulating the hot water pipes with foam tubes helps keep water hot as it travels from your heater to where you’re using it. Pipe insulation is cheap and easy to add. Some newer water heaters have built in insulation. If your water heater says it has less than an R25 insulation, or if it feels warm when you touch it, it’s worth insulating. Renee will show you how. Figure out the size of your pipes and pick some insulation up at your local hardware store.

  • Turn your hot water down to 120 degrees

    120° is a high enough temperature to kill bacteria and good enough for a shower.

  • Install showerheads that use 1.5 gallons/minute or less

    Low flow showerheads used to mean you were just in a mist of water. No more. There are some great options at local retailers that maintain water pressure with a lot less water, meaning you pay less to heat it.

  • Install a heat pump hot water heater

    Water heating can eat up 20% of your total energy bill. Heat pump water heaters can cost half as much to operate as traditional electric resistance water heaters, and can save over $1,800 over the lifetime of the unit. Not only do they heat water, heat pump water heaters also air condition and dehumidify the space around them.

    Learn about efficient options

Upgrade Low-efficiency Equipment

  • Install a cold climate heat pump to displace some of your heating needs

    Cold climate heat pumps are made to work in cold climates like Vermont, and they can lower your heating costs considerably if you’re heating with propane or oil. Plus, it doubles as an air conditioner in the summer.

    Heat pumps use electricity to draw heat from the environment and move it indoors to heat your home, or move it outdoors to cool your home.

    Find out if a heat pump is right for you

  • Replace your system with a high efficiency model, or consider an Advanced Wood Heat furnace or boiler

    Today’s models are up to 50% more efficient than those made before 1995. While a new furnace or boiler is a major expense, you’ll recoup the cost over time through lower energy bills.

    Alternatively, many Vermonters are making the switch from petroleum fuels to locally manufactured Advanced Wood Heating systems. These systems include fuel storage and auto-feeding so they operate just like a traditional heating system, but burn a low cost, renewable fuel.

    Learn more about Advanced Wood Heating Systems

  • Replace your old woodstove with a new EPA certified stove

    New EPA certified stoves emit a fraction of the particulates old wood stoves do and are more efficient so they consume less wood to provide you with the heat you need.

    Learn about woodstoves

Have questions? Call 888-921-5990 for answers and advice from an Efficiency Vermont energy specialist. Monday-Friday, 8-5. If you live in Burlington, email or call Burlington Electric Department at 802-865-7342.