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How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

News Story

Preparing your humble abode for those harsh New York winters requires more than just cranking the heat. Read on to save yourself with some quick tips for winterizing your home!

No one wants to get stuck in the middle of a snowstorm without protections or the necessary equipment to get them out. Below, you’ll find some quick tips on how to make sure you’re not stuck in a rut—or, snow pile, I should say—with some help from Dyson Assistant Professor and Director of Environmental Science and Studies, Matthew Aiello-Lammens, PhD.

1. Check the furnace.
Lammens notes that it’s essential to have your furnace service and tuned up. Making sure your furnace is up to speed and ready to rumble before the cold hits will save you from stressing about it later.

2. Add attic insulation.
Adding extra insulation to your attic will help stop the flow of the cold air in your house, which will help to keep those heating bills a little more reasonable. The keyword here is a little—we can’t guarantee you still won’t get angry at that ever-dreaded bill!

3. Make friends with your neighbors who have snow blowers and plows.
More than likely they will help clear your snow for you, or at least do it in exchange for some cookies, alphabet soup, or some cash.

4. Know your limitations.
When shoveling snow, don’t try to do too much. Injuries—particularly lower back injuries—are unfortunately common, so do your best not to overexert yourself. Take consistent breaks, clear in doses rather than in one big push, and get as much help as you can.

If you have a heart condition or your family has a history of heart problems, take extra caution. The exertion will cause a sudden increase in blood pressure, which, when combined with the cold air, will constrict your blood vessels and decrease oxygen to the heart.

5. Invest in boots and thick socks.
This holds true no matter where you live, but is particularly useful for New York City Campus folks—there is nothing worse than plunging foot-first into one of those ghost slush puddles and getting your shoes and socks both frozen and soaked. It’s a rite of passage for all New Yorkers, but it’s something you don’t really want to do twice.

6. Use bubble wrap to insulate your windows.
If you could keep yourself from popping those bubbles, the wrap adds an extra layer between your home and the outside that’ll help keep the house warm, while still letting all the light in.

7. Bundle up—indoors!
“Turn down the heat, and invest in a nice pair of slippers and some heavy sweaters,” says Lammens.

You can also keep heat in with a large rug—or a fat cat.

8. Keep your heat slightly up if you know there’s super cold weather coming (even overnight).
One of the worst in-home winter calamities is the dreaded freezing of the pipes. Avoid this with preparedness. No one likes waking up after a cold night to frozen pipes and no water…

9. Curtains up.
“Consider investing in insulated curtains or curtain backings,” says Lammens. “There are some very reasonably priced backings at Ikea. And a bonus—they help block out light, so you can sleep in on the weekends!”

10. Most importantly: make time to spend the day with family.
Watching movies as the snow falls, pigging out on candy and cookies, and enjoying the quality time with those you love and appreciate is probably the best thing you can do over winter. The best gift you can give someone is your time and attention.