As we veer towards December, brief warm reprises are less and less frequent, and consistently cold days have arrived for the long haul. Now is a good time to put away your summer clothes for good, bring out your parka, and go through a mental checklist of steps to ensure that you and your home are ready for winter.
Winterize Your Home
The primary source of cold air entering and warm air exiting your apartment will be your windows, so be sure to inspect them for drafts. Consider investing in heavy, thermal winter curtains to help keep cold air from seeping in, especially at night when sunlight isn't around to naturally warm your space.
Wintertime is also the prime season for rodent outbreaks, as critters seek warm spots to take up residence. Now is a good time to check for and seal small holes in your walls, in order to stop an infestation before it happens. Most ceiling fans have a switch that causes the rotation of the fan to reverse, resulting in air being pulled up towards the ceiling, instead of pushing it down. Running a reversed fan on low will actually create a warming effect by pulling cold air up and dispersing warm air out and down.
Finally, if you find your skin getting exceptionally dry in the wintertime you're not alone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dry winter air can be the culprit behind everything from itchy skin to asthma and bronchitis, and even nosebleeds. Invest in a humidifier to mitigate the cold dry air and keep your body healthy and happy. Humid air conducts heat more effectively than dry air, so by keeping your air from drying out you are not only helping your skin out, you could even save money on your heating bill.
Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Reducing overall energy consumption is a true win-win for your wallet and for the environment. Of course, layering cozy blankets and sweaters are always an option, but cutting down on how much heat you use is easy with a few simple rituals: closing curtains during the night, covering hardwood flooring with carpets to seal in heat, and keeping the heat to the lowest setting comfortable for you. If you're out of town during the depths of winter, and are considering turning off the heat for several consecutive days, don't turn your heating system off completely. This could result in frozen pipes bursting, causing a flooding nightmare for you and your neighbours.
Photo by Ian Harber on Unsplash
Winter Storm Emergency Kit
Though it's hard to imagine what the reality of a winter storm feels like now, there will inevitably be a day someday soon when it's too snowy to leave the house. Now is the time to prep a basic kit with essentials in the event that a bitter winter storm leaves you without power, or without the ability to go to the store. A flashlight, extra batteries, basic first-aid essentials, a battery operated smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, some canned goods and a working can opener are easy essentials to set aside to quell your fears in the event of an unexpected superstorm.
Image Source: Ian Harber on Unsplash
Prioritize Your Mental Health
For many of us, winter can be a difficult time for managing day-to-day mental health concerns. With the added stress of COVID-19, it is extra important to act proactively in maintaining self-care as the colder months approach.
Now is a great time to implement regular light exercise into your daily routine, as well as daily exposure to sunlight. If you live in an apartment that lacks direct sunlight, or if daylight savings is hitting especially hard this year, talk to your doctor about purchasing a lamp that simulates sunlight. Light Boxes are often used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and many people experience positive effects with just 20 minutes of exposure per day.
Beyond staying active, getting outdoors, and securing enough sunlight, take the time to invest in your own space by treating yourself to some new indoor plants. Tending to houseplants is an easy way to replicate some summer lushness long past when the leaves have fallen off the trees.