Whether you’ve been living in the city for a while or have just purchased your first home in Philadelphia, it can be tough to know what to expect in the winter. Some years, the Philadelphia winter is a mild one. Other years, winter means freezing temperatures and lots of snow for months on end. For the 2014-2015 season, meteorologist Glen “Hurricane” Schwartz has predicted an average temperature this winter of 31.8 degrees, three degrees lower than usual. His prediction for snow is between 40 and 45 inches, or about two times the average amount. While you can’t avoid the chill this winter, you can take a few steps to make sure you and your home are ready for whatever it brings.
Seal Up Windows and Leaks
In the winter, your home’s heater works to keep you warm and comfortable. But if you live in an old, leaky home, your heater has to work against the cold air that’s seeping in and against the warm air that’s seeping out. A leaky home is a more expensive home, according to the US Energy Star program. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can keep your home from leaking air.
- The first thing to do is find the source of the air leaks. Chilly air can usually get in around areas that aren’t fully sealed, such as your home’s windows, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets.
- If your home has a basement, you may also have gaps around the pipes that lead out of the house.
- One way to seal off recessed lighting and outlets is to place a foam gasket behind them.
- You can caulk the opening around pipes to keep the cool air out and the warm air in.
- Adding caulk or weatherstripping around your windows and doors will also reduce leaks.
Take Care of Outdoor Areas
Before the Philadelphia winter hits, you’ll want to make sure your outdoor space, if you have one, is ready. If you have an outdoor spigot, switch it off for the winter. Turn the spigot on after you turn off the water supply, so that the water left in the pipes can drain and won’t freeze during the winter. Leave the spigot on all winter, until it’s time to turn the water back on in the spring.
Get Your Winter Gear in Order
Take a look in your basement or hall closet and make sure you have a snow shovel and rock salt ready to go. It might not have snowed yet, but it’s better to be ready for the first big (or small) snowfall, than to have to head to the store in the middle of a storm to stock up. During the snowstorms of 2014, stores had trouble keeping rock salt in stock, meaning plenty of people were out of luck.
Once you’ve sealed your home and stocked up on salt, take a minute to look over the rules for shoveling snow this winter. According to the city’s code, homeowners and tenants need to clear a path of at least 36 inches along the sidewalk no more than six hours after the snow has stopped falling.
With its cold weather and heaps of snow, a Philadelphia winter can seem formidable. But if you take the time to get ready now, you can find yourself enjoying a hot cup of cocoa and a blanket when the first big snowstorm of the season hits.
Image Source: Flickr/Beck Gusler