Helpful At-Home Tips for Cold Weather

Throughout Michigan, winter weather sometimes brings extremely cold temperatures and wind chills that our homes' heating systems are not designed for, with bitter cold temperatures reaching -20 to -30-degrees with wind chills of up to -50+. Regardless of if you’re living in a newer or older home, during times with bitterly cold temperatures, your home will struggle to maintain a set temperature while the heating system is working at full capacity.

Home Care Tips:

  • Raise your thermostat 2 to 4 degrees above your normal setting. We recommend setting it at 70 degrees during very cold periods.
  • Set your programmable thermostat to a permanent HOLD during cold snaps. Do not let your thermostat run in “set back” mode because it will be very difficult for your thermostat to overcome very cold temperatures and get back up to the desired heat setting.
  • Replace your furnace filter regularly. If you have not replaced it recently, make sure to do so during a cold winter for the most efficient operation.
  • Limit opening and closing garage doors and exterior doors to prevent cold air from entering your home.
  • Take advantage of the natural heating ability of direct sunlight. Keep your blinds and curtains open in areas where you receive direct light, and keep them closed in darker areas to help hold the heat inside.
  • Check to make sure air vents and radiators are not blocked or obstructed.
  • Locate the intake and exhaust pipes for your furnace or boiler (located outside – usually on the side or back of your house) and make sure to keep the area around the pipes clear of ice and snow. For some homes, these pipes may be located on the roof; do NOT go onto your roof in icy conditions.

Maintaining Inside Temperature:

If your heating system is running, meaning your radiators are hot or you feel hot air coming out of your vents, don’t worry if the temperature drops a little below the heat setting; your heating system is working properly, it’s just working extra hard during very cold days. Remain calm, and layer your clothing or use blankets to help maintain your comfort level.

Set your thermostat to a hold setting at 70 degrees or higher. Do not let your programmable thermostat run in “set back” mode on very cold days. Most heating systems cannot overcome temperatures lower than -20.

Do not use your oven or a grill to heat your home. Electric space heaters may be used for localized heating if necessary, but make sure to keep the area around them clear to reduce fire risk.

Preventing Frozen Pipes:

  • Open the cabinet doors under the sinks in your kitchen and bathroom to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing fixtures. Be sure to move any harmful chemicals and household cleaners out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Consider letting cold water drip from any faucets that are served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipes—even a trickle—helps prevent the pipes from freezing.
  • Set all programmable thermostats on a permanent HOLD to maintain a set temperature, rather than allowing the temperature to “set back” during the day or at night when you’re sleeping. This will keep the temperature steady, which can prevent a more costly repair if pipes freeze or burst.
  • Locate the water system master shut off in your home—normally in the basement. In case of emergency if your pipes do freeze or burst, turn off the water to prevent more damage.