It’s safe to say this winter has been anything but mild this year! It’s our first winter as new homeowners and it seems we have been hit with all the severities of winter. We’ve had feet upon feet of snow and -50 degree windchill. It was so cold that the state of Wisconsin was basically shut down for a day or two! We have learned many things to prepare for this extreme weather thanks to the internet, parents, and coworkers. So here are some tips for making sure you’re prepared in your own home for the crazy winter!
We’re going to start out right away with the biggest thorn in our side this season: the sump pump. Our neighborhood, especially our home in particular, was built on top of a swampy area, so our sump pump seems to run constantly. When we first moved in, it rained a lot and was running every minute it seemed! Our sump pump drains out of our house through a long tube to our backyard. During most of the winter when the temperatures are in the twenties and thirties, the pump drains no problem since the water coming out is at room temperature. When it gets colder though, you need to keep an eye on it to make sure the hose doesn’t freeze and get a water back up!
My boss gave me a great tip when the weather gets dangerously cold. Exterior wall pipes can freeze so to try and avoid that, you can open up your cabinet doors (such as for your kitchen sink) to let the warm air in your house get to those pipes. If that doesn’t work, which at one point it didn’t, you can always use your trusty hair dryer on the pipes!
If you live in the Midwest, do yourself a favor and invest in either a snow blower or some high quality snow shovels. We have had so much snow this winter already, and it gets really deep at the end of the driveway when the plows go by. And don’t forget plenty of salt, especially if you have a sidewalk in front of your house. We even purchased pet-friendly salt for our sidewalk because we have so many dogs in our neighborhood. In addition to the sidewalks, be sure to clear the snow around fire hydrants!
Getting your furnace checked and replacing filters is a must in our opinion. In October when the weather was starting to get cold, we went to turn on our furnace and it didn’t work. The heat would turn on, but wouldn’t ramp up to pump more heat throughout the house. We finally had to bite the bullet and get a new furnace - but in the end it’ll be a great investment!
During the first year of your home, you do have a home warranty that the sellers provide you (and make sure they do in your deal). However, when it comes to furnaces, it wasn’t very convenient for us at the time. We already had two people come to inspect our furnace and give us quotes. The home warranty company has to send out their own person for the inspection, then you have to wait for a quote, and then it can take up to a week to get someone there to install. And at that point, it usually isn’t the best, high-efficiency furnace and you still have to pay for some out of pocket. So we made the decision that if we were going to spend money on it, we should pay more for a high-efficiency furnace that would last longer and benefit us whenever we decide to sell. Just do your research and get multiple quotes!
Also - when the snow level gets high, keep the exterior exhaust pipes clear!
We believe that every home these days should have a smart thermostat. In the winter, your home uses a lot of energy to keep it warm and cozy. We have the Ecobee and love it! We can use the app on our phone to adjust the heat and set a schedule for the work week. It tells us the weather outside as well. We even got room sensors for Christmas to monitor the temperature in different rooms or levels of our home.
Everyone knows that winter makes your sinuses so dang dry. We got an amazing humidifier for our bedroom or to bring out into the living room for the day. Our sinuses don’t feel like a desert when we wake up in the morning thanks to it.
Cooking: A Dutch Oven
In the summer, we are grilling basically every night. Not as often in the winter, though! We have been slow cooking, roasting, and braising most of our meals (even making different types of bread!). It just helps warm your soul, hygge style. We actually have two dutch ovens, our second one is the white Milo dutch oven we got for Christmas and we love it!