November 15, 2021 Alicia Hutzler

7 Home Design Solutions for Cold Climate Living

You probably noticed it too, these last few weeks, perhaps as you leave your house to run some errands, or when you go on walks around your neighborhood. The smell in the air, it’s no longer warm and pleasant, but rather crisp and chilly.

At last, winter is officially knocking on our doorsteps. 

While our houses were built to protect us from outdoor elements such as the cold, we often end up a victim of its effect inside our homes. It’s the little things like dreading to get out of bed in the morning in fear of contacting the invading cold, and frantically rubbing our hands together at all times to keep them warm. It’s cranking up the heat in our homes yet seeing no difference apart from the enormous heating bill we receive at the end of the month.

And if it’s not the indoor cold that bothers us, it’s having to shovel our driveways before we’re able to go anywhere, worrying about the stability of the roof any time it snows, or fearing to slip and fall whenever we put a foot out the door.

Luckily, there are ways to augment your home comfort and safety. Keep reading to discover seven home design solutions to combat cold weather conditions.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Prioritize airtight sealing

In order to keep your house warm, you should first consider your home’s air sealing. Air sealing, as the term suggests, is meant to refrain the climate-controlled indoor air from slipping outside, and the cold outdoor air from sneaking inside. It also prevents leaks inside the walls and in the attic

Home areas that commonly require better air sealing include, but are not limited to, the foundations of the house, windows, doors, attics, chimney and fireplace walls. A well-sealed home increases the energy efficiency of your house and simultaneously guarantees a better indoor climate during the chilly months. 

Check your insulation and ventilation

Insulation and ventilation play an important role in maintaining comfort in your home during the winter. While adequate insulation helps prevent indoor heat loss, a good ventilation system maintains the air quality inside your house. 

Chicago winters can get pretty rough, so make sure that your pipes are well insulated to prevent them from freezing or bursting, and double-check that your ventilation is in fact functioning as you need it to remove moisture vapor build-up. In addition to improving the comfort of your home, these energy-efficient mechanisms will also reduce your heating bills.

Don’t underestimate the position, style and quality of your windows

The position of your house in relation to the sun is an important detail to consider when building a house in a cold climate region. In fact, maximizing natural sunlight can greatly contribute to the overall warmth of your house. For this reason, being aware of the position of your house allows you to deliberately add more windows and situate your frequently used rooms towards the south. We all love a purposeful home design!

Don’t forget about the style and quality of your window as well! Single- and double-hung windows generally tend to leak more air. In contrast, casement and awning windows are more energy-efficient–a better choice if you’re determined to keep your house warm. Also consider whether your windows are double- or triple-paned, which will better prevent unwanted airflow and maintain insulation

A simple yet durable roof will make all your worries go away

Although intricate roof designs, such as skylights and chimneys, may enhance the look and feel of your home, they must be carefully planned out because they can easily invite problems. In fact, the more holes and crevices in your roof, the more chances for potential leaks, and snow and ice accumulation it creates. 

If you don’t want to risk any issues, you may want to consider a simple design with durable materials such as a metal or asphalt shingles. However, if you’re set on a more detailed design, know that some best practices exist, and you should further discuss its implications with an architect. 

Moreover, depending on the material your roof is made of, it may cause snow to shed rapidly, creating big piles of snow around your house, blocking your exterior pathways. In that case, consider adding a longer roofline to your house to increase the safety of the walking paths underneath.

Say bye to snow shoveling with an outdoor snow-melting system

Picture this. It’s early in the morning, you’re about to leave for work when you remember that it snowed all night the previous night. Your mood instantly drops because you know what’s waiting for you in your driveway. But as you step outside, there’s no snow in sight around your car. That’s when you remember about the snow-melting technology you invested in recently that made worrying about shoveling during the winter a thing of the past.

Not only can this system be a lifesaver for your driveway, but it can also be installed beneath your frequently used exterior paths. While this technology is not cheap, it might be the right solution for you if you’re looking to save time and effort, brighten your mood in the morning and avoid hurting yourself. 

The material of your outdoor pathways matters

As you design the exterior of your house, carefully think about the kinds of materials you want to use as it could easily backfire when the winter settles in. When it comes to the most used pathways around your home–the ones you know you’ll have to shovel once it starts snowing–consider using a harder kind of material instead of, say, gravel. It will truly make the job ten times easier. 

You never know when a railing will save your life

Is one of your worst fears in the winter slipping on covered ice and hurting yourself? These accidents are common during the snowy months, especially in high foot traffic areas such as stairways. No matter how much you try to prevent a bad tumble, whether you make it a point to walk slowly, wear appropriate footwear and avoid slippery surfaces, sometimes, you need all the precautionary measures you can get. With railings complementing all your outdoor stairways, that’s one less chance of an impromptu mishap. 

If you would like to receive more home design tips for cold climate living, head on over to our contact page and give us a call! We’ll be happy to help you enhance the comfort and safety of our home.