Housing & Living Fall 2018   |   cutout

Make sure to winter-proof your house before you go on break



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Going home for the holidays? To make sure your Bloomington abode is intact when you get back, it needs some TLC before winter break starts. Secure your house, turn off electronics and don’t forget about your plants.

Turn your thermostat to 65 degrees. 

According to Elkins Apartments, turning your thermostat to 65 degrees is a must in order to prevent your pipes from freezing. Your house or apartment should be warm enough for nothing to freeze inside but not too warm as to where your heating bill will be through the roof at the end of the season. Leave your sink on at a very slow drip to further prevent pipes from freezing. Make sure all windows and doors are shut to not let the heat out and the cold in. 

Throw away all food. 

Clean out your fridge and freezer just in case the power goes out while you’re away. No one wants to return from a holiday to rotten month-old pizza in the fridge. And to prevent pesky bugs from having their own holiday feast, put away fruit from counter tops and take out any trash. Even put away bowls of pet food if your pet is leaving your house too. Their food can attract insects just the same. 

Make sure all electronics are off and unplugged.

Appliances left on and plugged in can be a major fire hazard. Unplug everything, from toasters to coffee machines and even reclining couches. Make sure everything in your kitchen is off before you leave, like your stove and oven. According to ZDNet, unplugging wall chargers and nightlights can save a bit of electricity when not in use. It’ll save you money and keep your house safe when you’re not around. 

Turn off your Christmas lights and decorations.

While your Christmas tree can be festive and fun, it can be a major fire hazard if lights are left on. Tinsel and glass ornaments can hit electrical wires in the wrong way, and especially if it’s a real tree, flames can start. Don’t forget other areas in your house where you might have other festive decorations; those snowflake string lights and dancing Santas need a break. Got an electrical Menorah? Make sure that’s off too. 

Cover windows and doorways. 

Picking up some industrial plastic at a hardware store and hanging it on windows and doorways can be helpful in keeping heat inside. Mason Greenberg, the engagement associate at IU's Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, said he always makes sure to prepare for winter before he leaves on breaks. 

“Putting up plastic helps insulate the windows and keeps your heat bill down,” Greenberg said.

Protect your plants

Winter winds can get the best of your plants, flowers and gardens, so don’t let your green thumb go numb. Move plants from porches, balconies and other outdoor areas inside. Position them close to a window where you know it can get the most sunlight. If you have a garden, remove any weeds and add mulch to prevent more from growing. Prevention Magazine suggests buying a fleece garden cloche to cover your garden beds to protect them from harsh winds and ice. 


Taking these simple steps can help prepare you for the harsh winter ahead, no matter where you go for the holiday break.

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