Winter Safety for Your Home

Indoor heat is an absolute necessity for the colder months in Connecticut. However there are simple ways to enjoy a warmer winter without spending excessively. Here are various different tips, information and recommendations to consider. Learn more about Winter Weather Awareness in Connecticut from the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) 

Home Improvement Energy Efficiency Hacks

Small adjustments can go a long way to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are several easy fixes to cut down on your energy usage.

1. Replace your furnace filter

If you use a forced air heating system, installing a clean filter can do wonders. A clogged or dirty filter may cause your heating system to do more work, which requires more energy. So, be sure to replace your filter every few months.

2. Seal your windows

Tiny openings and spaces between your window and wall frame may be allowing heat to escape. They could also bring in more cold air. To be sure, light an incense stick by your windows and see where the smoke goes. Or get a temperature sensor to check for cold spots around the frame.

Use spray foam insulation to seal and insulate your windows.  Once applied, this substance expands to fill in small crevices perfectly.

3. Use window insulation film

Window insulation film reflects heat towards the room instead of allowing it to escape outside. It also creates another layer of insulation, almost like adding another window pane.

4. Add heavy drapes to your windows

Heavy fabric will further insulate your windows and indoor living spaces. This will help keep cold drafts out, while keeping heat inside.

5. Use a thermostat

A thermostat is a temperature regulating device that senses the temperature of your home. It makes adjustments to maintain at a desired temperature setpoint. You can also program your thermostat so that it properly heats your home at specific times of the day.

6. Switch the direction of your ceiling fan

In the winter, adjust your ceiling fan rotate in a clockwise direction to circulate warm air. In the summer, have it turn counterclockwise to circulate cooler air. To change the direction of the blades, flip a switch on the side of your fan.

Winter Safety For Your Home

1. Do NOT use gas or charcoal powered grills indoors.
Grills generate carbon monoxide which is dangerous for your health.

2. Use electric space heaters with caution.
Small space heaters should not be placed near curtains or flammable materials. At night, when you go to bed, be sure to turn them off. 

3. Keep the water in your pipes from freezing.
Frozen pipes can cause property damage and require repair. Turn on your faucets at a slight drip so that the water stays running. Also, you may want to put in the extra effort to insulate your pipes. If the water in your pipes do end up frozen, do not use a flame to thaw the ice. Use a hair dryer instead, or rags soaked in hot water as safer sources of heat. 

4. Learn how to shut off your water valves.
In case a pipe in your house bursts, you will be able to shut off your water. 

5. Have an emergency supply of wood for heat.
Never say never. Emergencies can happen. If your fuel supply is cut off, keep a supply of dry wood that is seasoned. You can then generate heat using a wood-burning stove or your fireplace.

6. Prepare for storms.
Trim or cut large tree branches (and other structures) that could fall on your house. Also make sure to clear your rain gutters and fix any roof leaks. 

Learn more about Extreme Cold Weather Storm Tips for a safer winter season.

Layering Your Clothes

Layering your clothes properly can help you stay warm without relying as much on indoor heating systems. It is best to wear three loose, light weight layers of clothing (not one heavy layer), whether you are indoors or outdoors.

1. The base layer should be a non-absorbent shirt (i.e. not cotton). Good examples include polyester or silk. These types of fabrics wick sweat and moisture away from the skin to prevent dampness that feels cold to your skin.

2. The middle layer keeps you insulated. Choose clothing items like sweaters, sweatshirts and fleece.

3. The outer layer locks in warmth. When indoors, wear something comfortable like another regular sweater, hoodie or jacket. When outdoors, wear something that is water and wind proof to keep out the cold.

4. Choose mittens over gloves since they are warmer.

5. Keep your head warm with a hat.

For even more warmth, use double layers for your pants, socks and gloves. In extreme cold weather conditions, keep your mouth covered with a scarf. This will protect your lungs from the cold.

Fun Family DIY Project to Try

Here is a great science project for you and your kids. Although it is not meant as a substitute for proper indoor heating, it is still a fun experiment. Get curious about how heat can be amplified. Explore the question of how it might be possible to generate cozy warmth using simple materials like tea light candles, metal and terra cotta.

What You'll Need

  • 3 terra cotta flower pots, large, medium and small to nest within each other
  • a large threaded bolt to fit in the center hole
  • about 3 large nuts to fit the bolt 
  • about 6 large washers to fit the bolt

Take the large sized terra cotta pot and place the large bolt in the hole. Hold the pot in front of you so that you can see the inside. Add two large washers and a large nut along the bolt to create a small space between the large pot and the medium pot.

In the medium pot, along the center bolt, add another two large washers and a large nut to create a space in-between the small pot

Add the small pot to the center bolt and secure with two washers and a large nut

Use the large (terra cotta) saucer that came with the biggest pot and place up to 5-6 tea lights.

Add two bricks or identical concrete pieces on each side of the saucer plate. This will hold your flower pot apparatus so it stays raised above the tea lights. Use a long match or a large kitchen/candle lighter to light the tea lights.

The heat from the candles will travel up the central metal column, in between the spaces. And the terra cotta material will help amplify the heat.

Keep experimenting to see what works best to create better warmth. Look online (search terra cotta tea lights etc.) for other ideas. Be sure to keep your set up away from small children, pets and other hazards.

Wood Burning

Burning wood to keep a home warm is a long-standing tradition in New England. Depending on the source of the wood, it can be a cost-effective alternative to using fossil fuels. While wood burning does produce indoor and outdoor air pollution that is harmful to human health, using a newer EPA certified wood heater and following the manufacturer’s recommendations can minimize this air pollution.The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has important information about wood burning on its website, here: Wood Burning in Connecticut. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Burn Wise” program and other great sources of information are also linked to from the DEEP Wood Burning webpage. Important information about firewood is available on the DEEP website here: Firewood (