October 26, 2021

Get ready for winter

Experts say this is the time to prepare home for the cold

Colin Spencer/Staff Reporter

A simple, low-cost way to improve comfort and energy efficiency in the winter is to insulate the windows, Valu Home Centers Cortlandville manager Eric Bonawitz said Wednesday.

Expect a warmer winter this year, but perhaps with a bit more snow. Now is about the time to get ready for it.

“Right now is a great time to start weather preparations,” said Valu Home Centers Cortland manager Eric Bonawitz. Insulating and fixing up the exterior of houses should be done before temperatures drop below freezing and snow falls, which can prevent work from being done.

Cortland County Community Action Program Inc., a non-profit human service agency, offers a weatherization assistance program based on income eligibility to help with winter-proofing services such as installing insulation, repairing and replacing heating systems, installing of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors and more.

The services are free to income-eligible households, said Denise Peroulakis, director of energy services, and for a fee for other homeowners and businesses.

Need help?

The Cortland County Communication Program offers a weatherization assistance program. For details, go to www.capco.org.

Quick tips:

  • Weather stripping around doors and plastic covers over windows can reduce drafts.
  • Keeping drapes open on sunny days, but closed at night, will let heat in, and keep it there.
  • A hot water heater cover will save energy.
  • Humid air feels warmer than dry. You can use a humidifier, or even just a tray of water on top of a radiator.
    Source: Cortland Community Action Program

Bonawitz said homeowners should have backup heating sources and backup power sources for heaters and boilers. They should be safe and approved for use indoors.

Cortland Fire Capt. Tom Casterline said residents should avoid using kerosene or propane space heaters indoors because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Natural gas heaters are safe to use indoors, he said, but they need to be installed by professionals.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission does list a number of safety tips in using a kerosene heater, including not using gasoline, refueling the heater outside and keeping the heater property maintained and with enough ventilation — perhaps keeping a window open an inch or two.
The coming winter will probably be warmer than typical. Expect average temperatures around 37 or 38 degrees, up from the typical winter’s 34 or 35, said meteorologist Mitchell Gaines of the National Weather Service at Binghamton. Average temperatures in Central New York are expected to be around 37 to 38 degrees, a little higher than the area average winter temperatures of 34 to 35 degrees.

A potential for more snow than average is predicted. Gaines said the average snowfall is 80 inches in Central New York.

Gaines advises people make sure their furnace is working, keep plenty of layers of clothing in their house and have an emergency supply kit in both their home and car.

Homeowners should “take initial steps and have provisions and make sure everything is in good working order,” Gaines said.

And if you’re traveling, check weather advisories to be prepared for storms, Gaines and Bonawitz said. The National Weather Service is at www.weather.gov/bgm/. The state Department of Transportation maintains a real-time conditions service at 511ny.org.