Preparing your home for an Arctic blast

Tips and resources to prevent your pipes from freezing, keeping your home's temperature comfortable and conserving energy.

Reikon Design Build | Public Domain

With an Arctic blast surging across a wide swath of the country snarling holiday travel plans, many are wondering what they need to do to prepare for bitter cold and life-threatening wind chills. Here are tips and resources to prepare your home for cold.

How to keep pipes from freezing

Should you be dripping your faucets to prevent pipes from freezing? If so, how much? What should you do if your pipes do freeze? Here’s a couple of resources to help you keep water running in your home.

How to keep your home’s temperature comfortable despite the cold

  • Weatherize your home. With energy costs high this winter, colder temperatures and high winds can make your home chilly and drafty. Not only is this uncomfortable but it can also lead to higher energy use. It’s not too late to take on basic DIY weatherization to seal air leaks and drafts. Our Weatherizing Your Home guide offers tips and how-tos on finding air leaks, caulking them, and more to reduce energy waste and make your home more comfortable, regardless of what Old Man Winter serves up.
  • Replace your furnace filter. If, like most Americans, you have a gas or oil furnace and haven’t changed your furnace filter this year, now is a good time to do it. A dirty filter makes your heating system less efficient and reduces the life of your system. A dirty filter allows dust, dander, and even mold to circulate through your home.
  • Let the sunshine in. Frigid days can sometimes be sunny days. Those rays still have warmth. Open curtains and blinds and let the sunshine in to help take the edge off.

How to conserve energy

Cold weather means everyone is using more energy to keep warm, causing demand to spike. Now is a good time to look for ways to conserve energy, which will reduce your heating bills compared to what they would be, but also to make sure there’s enough power to meet everyone’s needs. Here are some ways to conserve energy during winter storms.

  • Turn down your thermostat. Manufacturers recommend 68 degrees, but every degree makes a difference.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater. If it’s not already at 120 degrees, now is the time to get it there.
  • Dress in layers. Now is the time to put on your long-underwear if you have it. Leggins under baggy pants are a good backup plan. And since we lose a lot of heat through our heads, throwing on a hat can help you stay warm despite the cold.

Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate.